MANILA – The head of the Philippine National Police said on Monday his officers were ready to resume the war on drugs declared by the country’s president after it had been suspended for a month and a half due to a series of scandals.
Ronald dela Rosa said in a televised press conference that the PNP was prepared to go back to conducting raids and other operations across the country, adding that this time, however, they would go about their business with extreme caution.
Around the middle of October, President Rodrigo Duterte put the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency exclusively in charge of the anti-drug campaign, prompting the PNP to suspend its operations, which included raiding suspects’ homes to arrest them or – in line with their orders – shoot them if they resisted arrest.
More than 3,900 suspects have been killed by the police since Duterte launched his crusade against narcotics after taking office on June 30, 2016. The death toll exceeds 7,000 when killings by vigilante groups and individuals are taken into account.
Several scandals had tarnished the image of the police and the entire campaign to eradicate drug use, especially those related to the deaths of minors and other violent incidents involving officers in the city of Caloocan, to the north of Manila.
“If there are violations committed we will not deny that. We will see to it that the Caloocan experience never happens again,” the PNP chief said on Monday.
In recent days, Duterte suggested the possibility of bringing the police back into the anti-drug campaign and warned that drug-related crime could escalate after having decreased for a year and a half.
In February, following the first corruption scandal, Duterte already decided to temporarily suspend police operations in the war against narcotics but reinstated them a month later after claiming drugs and crime had returned to the streets.