Palace: Drug war to improve in 2018

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The Duterte administration will apply the lessons from its previous experiences in the controversial drug war to make the campaign better in 2018, according to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

Roque also described as “hugely successful” the campaign against illegal narcotics despite President Duterte twice taking the police out of antidrug operations because of questionable killings of suspected addicts and pushers.

The Philippine National Police has since been brought back to the campaign, but lost the lead role to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The thousands of drug-related killings in the country have given rise to allegations of extrajudicial executions and to criticism of the President and his administration by human rights groups and other local and international organizations.

But Roque said the administration had learned from its experiences in handling the drug war and expected fewer complaints about how it was done. 


Learn from experience

“Because we have gone through a lot of experiences about it, I’m sure we will learn from our past experience,” he told reporters recently.

Roque said he considered the war on drugs a success because the crime rate had gone down, and to him, this was a “major accomplishment.”

Asked about the PNP being removed from the drug war twice, he said the President was just looking for the best way to rid the country of the illegal narcotics scourge.

Mr. Duterte first stopped the police from conducting antidrug operations in January after it was found that narcotics policemen had killed Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo right inside the PNP headquarters at Camp Crame.

The police were directed to resume the drug war a month later.

In October, the PNP was taken out of the antidrug campaign for the second time, with the task handed over to PDEA. 


Public outrage

This followed widespread public outrage over police-led killings, including that of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, who was slain in an antidrug operation.

Earlier this month, Mr. Duterte brought back the PNP to the drug war anew, but said the campaign would still be headed by PDEA.

The PNP conducted 79,193 antidrug operations from July 1, 2016, to November 27, 2017, according to a yearend report from Malacañang.

During this period, 3,967 were killed in antidrug operations. Some 16,355 deaths were under investigation.

A total of 118,287 drug personalities were arrested and a total of 1,308,078 drug users surrendered.

The PNP has reported an 8.44-percent decrease in total crime volume from January to October this year.

There was also a 20.56-percent decrease in index crime, or crimes against persons and crimes against property. Robbery incidents also decreased by 23.61 percent. –


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