Duterte gives PDEA sole authority to conduct anti-drug ops

One of the world's most controversial strongmen is losing his popularity at home

Since the crackdown, more than 1,300,000 suspects have surrendered and at least 113,900 arrests have been made, the Phillipine police said.

MANILA- The Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte's order to let the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) lead his anti-narcotics campaign.

On March 6, the PNP officially relaunched its campaign against drugs dubbed Oplan Double Barrel Alpha Reloaded.

Dela Rosa earlier said that without the task of ridding the country of illegal drugs, the PNP will now focus on internal cleansing and crack down on riding in tandem groups.

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The memorandum directed the NBI, PNP, AFP, BOC, Philippine Postal Office and all other agencies as well as all ad hoc anti-drug task forces to immediately relay, deliver and bring to the attention of the PDEA all information they received for its appropriate action.

The drug war was criticized by the administration and opposition lawmakers, the United Nations, and local and global human rights groups for alleged extrajudicial killings supposedly committed by police officers.

Last January, Duterte detached the PNP from the war on drugs following the death of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo allegedly in the hands of the policemen, inside the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

The PNP's Drug Enforcement Group will now be limited to intelligence production and monitoring.

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This will also be the second time that President Duterte ordered the PNP to stop all anti-drug operations nationwide. "I have only more than a thousands of agents", added Aquino who, on Sunday, led a raid that resulted in the arrest of a mayor of Sarangani province in Mindanao, described the by PDEA as a "drug lord".

Human rights organizations allege the bloody drug war has killed 13,000 people, while Phillipinne authorities say 3,850 have been killed in police operations while 2,290 have been killed by unknown assassins.

"What happened is the street distribution of networks of drugs lords already degraded so we now target higher echelons of the syndicates, as well as their protectors in government", he added. In the "Anti-Illegal Drugs Campaign Plan: Double Barrel", Project Tokhang and Project High-Value Target was launched when Duterte took office on July 1, 2016.

Abella said the PDEA would now elevate the campaign against illegal drugs as it has widened its scope.

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