PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to leave the conduct of the drug campaign to the anti-narcotics agency but was directed to stay visible “at all times” as a “deterrent” to the activities linked to the proliferation of these illegal substances.
“I hereby direct the NBI, PNP, Armed Forces, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Postal Office and all other agencies or any ad hoc anti-drug ask force, to leave to the PDEA the conduct of all campaigns and operations against all those who, directly and indirectly, and in whatever manner or capacity, are involved in or connected with illegal drugs pursuant to 9165 and bring order in the campaign against illegal drugs, thus pinpointing precise accountability,” the President said in a memorandum dated October 10 and released on Wednesday.
Republic Act 9165 is the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
NBI is the National Bureau of Investigation while PDEA is the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Duterte said that the directive did not decimate the investigative powers of the NBI and PNP on all crimes provided for in their respective organic laws, but noted that under RA 9165, PDEA should be the lead agency when the investigation being conducted by the NBI, PNP or any ad hoc anti-drug task force showed a violation or violations of RA 9165.
Duterte said it was still important for the PNP to, “at all times, maintain police visibility as a deterrent to illegal drug activities” and leave with PDEA the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations.
Before the memo, the PNP was implementing an anti-drug operation dubbed “Oplan Double Barrel”.
The program, in two parts, went after high value targets or big-time drug dealers and “Oplan Tokhang” in which policemen would knock on doors of houses where suspected drug dependents lived.
Under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs law, the PDEA is also mandated to:
* carry out a national anti-drug campaign program such as drug law enforcement, as well as control and prevention campaign with the assistance of concerned government agencies;
* administer oath, issue subpoena and subpoena duces tecum relative to the conduct of investigation involving the violations of RA 9165;
* arrest and apprehend as well as search all violators;
* seize or confiscate the effects or proceeds of the crimes as provided by law and take custody.
The President’s memo was issued a week after a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that seven out of 10 Filipinos (73 percent) feared that they or someone they know could get killed in police anti-drug operations.
It also comes at a time when local police have been under fire for a series of controversial deaths involving teens whom they have linked to the drug war.