Philippines police to resume anti-drug operations as dealers rebound

Philippine police chief says local authorities also want police to return to war on drugs as soon as possible.

Philippines drugs war
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said the drug trade has returned to the streets of Manila despite firebrand President Rodrigo Duterte vowing to intensify his campaign. Reuters

Philippine police chief said on Monday that they are ready to resume President Rodrigo Duterte's war on illegal drugs trade which had returned to the streets. The announcement comes a month after Duterte halted police operations, labelling the force "rotten to the core".

Ronald dela Rosa said that if his team did not get back to the fight now, they would lose all the gains they have achieved against the drug traders might be lost.

"We are ready to go back to war if given orders by the president," dela Rosa told Reuters. "The longer that we are out of the war on drugs, the situation is getting worse, problems will return. So, the sooner we return, the better," he added.

President Duterte said that he may allow the police to resume anti-drug operations as there had been a rise of about 20 per cent in drug sales on the streets since police were pulled back.

"I will leave it to the Philippine National Police to decide," Duterte said. "What they have to do (is) to succeed."

Dela Rosa said the governors, mayors and village officials were also asking the police to return to the anti-drugs campaign as the drug peddlers and users were back on the streets.

Last month, Duterte ordered the police to stop the anti-drugs operations after declaring the force rotten to the core. Reuters reported that since then more than half a dozen drug users and dealers have come back.

Over 8,000 people have been killed in the nationwide anti-drugs crackdown since Duterte took over office seven months ago. According to police, some 2,500 are shootouts during raids and sting operations.

The human rights groups believe that many of the others were extra-judicial executions committed in cooperation with the police. But the Duterte administration has vehemently denied those allegations.

According to reporters and photographers, who have been working on the crime beat on the night shift, the "vigilante-style" killings of drug suspects had continued, but the pace has reduced after the suspension of police operations.

At the end of January, Duterte halted all the police operations and transferred the role to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which is supported by the army.