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Duterte: PNP to decide on resuming 'tokhang'

President Rodrigo Duterte looks at a computer monitor as he arrives for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police joint command conference at the Malacañan Palace in Manila, Philippines on Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte is leaving it to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to decide on whether to resume Oplan Tokhang, the anti-drug campaign that was suspended after some law enforcers were tagged in the killing of a South Korean businessman.

Duterte said the PNP should assign trustworthy men to the anti-drug war in the event that it decides to continue the campaign.

"I don't know. I would leave it to the PNP to decide. What do they need? What they have to do to succeed? I do not meddle in the mechanisms there. What is important for me is finish it, do it, I do not inquire into how, where, what," the president told reporters in Malacañang on Monday.

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"Well, I said, give me the men that I can trust to handle the campaign," he added.

Duterte said it is now the job of PNP chief Dir. Gen. Ronald dela Rosa "to look for young men in the PNP who are imbued with patriotic fervor to serve their country."

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"The standard is you must be honest, efficient, you must not be corrupt, so that everything will be in order," he said.

Duterte barred the PNP from participating in the anti-drug war after some members of its Anti-Illegal Drug Group were tagged in the kidnapping and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo.

The president has vowed to cleanse the PNP of scalawags as he admitted that corruption is rampant in the police force.

Duterte claimed that drug-related activities have risen by 20 percent since Oplan Tokhang was suspended.

"There is again a rise of the drug activities by 20 percent. I told you it's a virulent thing. Hindi matapos-tapos ‘yan (It is never ending)," the president said.

"I know. I got out of Malacañan, I know. Totoo 'yan. Lumabas talaga ako ng (That's true. I get out of) Malacañang," he added. 

In jest, Duterte issued a threat to drug offenders who refuse to stop their activities.

"Kung ayaw nilang huminto mag-suicide ako. Takutin ko na lang sila. Mag-bomber na lang ako, suicide bomber (If they don't stop, I'll commit suicide. I'll just scare them. I'll just be a bomber, suicide bomber)," he said.

Duterte said the drug war was part of the agenda of the joint military and police command conference yesterday in Malacañang.

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