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Duterte: Let PDEA do its job

PDEA-ARMM agents examine firearms and drugs seized in a raid in Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao in May. Philstar.com/John Unson, file
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has said he is giving the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the new lead agency in the government campaign against drugs, a free hand in doing its job. 
 
“Do not give me reports. Let the PDEA do its job. I don't know if it is really the right path, but that’s what I thought of. Leave it that way,” the President said at the wake of the late Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal last Sunday.
 
“Drugs, on the other hand, I already gave up everything to avoid issues. I already told the Bureau of Customs, police, Armed Forces to get out. Including myself,” he added.
 
Duterte, earlier this month, issued a memorandum designating PDEA as the lead agency in the so-called drug war, citing the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.
 
Duterte said all information obtained in the course of the enforcement of the anti-narcotics campaign must be “relayed, delivered, or brought to the attention of the PDEA for its appropriate action.”

Despite sidelining the police from the drug war, Duterte, nonetheless, directed the PNP to maintain its visibility “at all times” as a “deterrent to illegal drug activities.”

Caloocan killings

Duterte ordered PDEA to handle the crackdown on illegal drugs after public clamor over two teenage suspects were killed by Caloocan police officers in August.
 
Police claim that Kian delos Santos, 17, was killed in a shootout with arresting officers but witnesses said he was begging for his life when he was shot. Forensics examination by the Public Attorney's Office suggests he was on the ground when shot.
 
Carl Arnaiz, 19, was said to have been killed after robbing taxi driver Tomas Bagcal in Caloocan City. The taxi driver has, however, disowned the statements in the affidavits that were attributed to him and expressed belief that the killing of Arnaiz was “scripted.”
 
Last week, Duterte said he was unsure if the 2,000-strong PDEA can address the drug problem, which he claims has contaminated at least two million people. He had previously said there were as many as 4 million drug addicts in the Philippines despite the Dangerous Drugs Board having a much lower estimate.
 
 
“Would there be enough resources for this agency to deal with the problem effectively?" I don't know. I don't know because I myself have distanced (myself),” the President said in a speech in Pasay last Wednesday.
 
“Some are insisting that there is no drug problem. Fine, I agree with you. So, the 2,000 members would be enough for the entire Philippines,” he added. The DDB has said it will help lobby for more funding and support for the PDEA.
 
Although groups, including human rights watch dogs, have been critical of the way the campaign against illegal drugs has resulted in at least 3,900 killed in law enforcement operations, none have said there is no drug problem. 

Palace welcomes Quezon City drug rehab deal

As this developed, Malacañang welcomed the drug partnership agreement signed by the Diocese of Novaliches, the Quezon City government and the Philippine National police.
 
Under the deal, the city government, the police and the diocese will work together to implement a community-based drug rehabilitation program.
 
“The drug rehabilitation partnership agreement signed by the Diocese of Novaliches, Quezon City government, and the Philippine National Police for a community-based drug rehabilitation program in the Batasan area is a commendable move to pro-actively help the national government in the anti-illegal drug campaign,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.  
 
“It is hoped that this kind of partnership can be replicated by the PNP and other offices involved in the comprehensive anti-illegal drugs campaign with other dioceses, as well as other churches and church groups in the country,” he added. 
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