Duterte gives PDEA lead role in drug war

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 11) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to lead all anti-illegal drug operations in the country.

"Leave to the PDEA as sole agency, the conduct of all campaigns and operations against all those who, directly or indirectly, and in whatever manner or capacity, are involved in or connected with, illegal drugs," the memorandum read.

It addressed the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Customs (BoC), Philippine Postal Office, and all other concerned agencies.

The order stated all information received on the drug war willl be "relayed, delivered, or brought to the attention of the PDEA for its appropriate action."

"In order to bring order to the operation/campaign against illegal drugs, thus pinpointing precise accountability (to PDEA)," it added.

The memorandum also stated that police visibility shall be maintained to deter illegal drug activities, but PDEA should still conduct the anti-illegal drug operations.

The measure implements Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, which created the PDEA to "safeguard the integrity of its territory and the well-being of its citizenry particularly the youth, from the harmful effects of dangerous drugs on their physical and mental well-being."

The law states the PDEA is the lead implementing agency against drugs, and "shall be responsible for the efficient and effective law enforcement of all the provisions on any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical."

Last January, the PDEA was tasked to take the lead on the drug war after the police's Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) was disbanded, following the death of a South Korean businessman allegedly at the hands of rogue cops.

The unit was, however, recreated in March under a new name, the PNP Drug Enforcement Group (DEG). The body took over the campaign against illegal drugs.

According to the PNP, the police have conducted 76,863 anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to September 26, 2017.

The operations resulted in the death of 3,906 drug personalities and the arrest of 113,932.

It added that as of July 25, 2017, the police have facilitated over 1.3 million surrenders.

Over 3,500 barangays have been cleared of drugs as of August 31, 2017, the PNP said.

The operations, however, also caused the death of 85 law enforcers, while 225 were injured.

The Duterte administration's war on drugs, the PNP said, has led to the seizure of drugs, chemicals, and lab equipment worth almost ₱19 billion, including about ₱13 billion worth of shabu.