MANILA – The Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the National Police on Tuesday to return to action in the government’s war on drugs after an almost two-month hiatus from the campaign that has left more than 7,000 dead.
Duterte, who had withdrawn the police from operations on Oct. 12 following a series of scandals, has signed an order confirming their re-deployment, the presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said at a press briefing.
Roque said that the police would provide active support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in the campaign, rather than leading operations as had previously been the case.
During the past seven and a half months, the campaign was solely handled by PDEA, which brought an end to the bloody raids carried out by police officer acting under ‘shoot-to-kill’ orders, particularly if a suspect 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, although the death toll is estimated to exceed 7,000 after killings by vigilante groups and individuals are taken into account.
The decision to withdraw police was provoked by a series of scandals, especially those related to the deaths of minors and other violent incidents involving officers in the city of Caloocan, to the north of Manila.
The officers involved were brought to justice and the entire Caloocan police unit was relieved.