THE government’s war on drugs “remains” with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) until President Rodrigo Duterte signs the document allowing the Philippine National Police (PNP) to resume a primary role in the campaign, Malacañang said on Monday.
Speaking to reporters in Davao City, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte remained “inclined” to return the government’s drug war to PNP, but has yet to make a decision.
“It is safe to reveal that the President, while inclined to return it to the PNP, has not made up completely his mind,” Roque said during a press conference.
“I guess until the document is signed by him, it remains with PDEA,” the Palace official added.
Roque asked not to “pressure” Duterte as he intended to seek clarification from the President regarding the matter.
“But I will actually seek clarification from the President. Let’s not pressure him, that’s a presidential prerogative,” he said.
In October, the President ordered PDEA to be the lead agency in the campaign against illegal drugs following strong criticisms on the increasing number of killings involving drug suspects.
The PNP was ordered to cleanse its ranks, focus on addressing crimes and maintain visibility as a deterrent to illegal drug activities.
Duterte issued a memorandum on October 10 directing the PDEA to spearhead the campaign against narcotics.
But on November 18, Duterte alluded to the possibility that the police would join the PDEA in carrying out anti-drug operations to prevent the problem from worsening again.
“The drug problem, if it becomes worse again, the police has to enter the picture. I want it (illegal drugs problem) eradicated if possible,” Duterte said in an event in Davao City over the weekend. CATHERINE S. VALENTE