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By Ryan Pickrell
The head of the Philippines police announced Monday that the war on drugs will be less bloody, “or even bloodless,” moving forward.
The police appear to be turning over a new leaf following international criticisms of the war on drugs that has ended the lives of over 8,000 people. Many of the deaths are believed to be the results of extrajudicial killings carried out by rogue police and vigilantes.
After taking office last summer, President Rodrigo Duterte launched a brutal shoot-to-kill drug war. The police have come under fire from the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and human rights organizations for ruthlessly slaughtering suspected drug criminals.
In late January, the president temporarily suspended his anti-narcotics campaign to address corruption and criminal behavior affecting the police; however, Duterte called for a renewed push last week, noting reports that drugs were again circulating in local communities.
“I hope that this will be less bloody, if not bloodless,” Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa said Monday, referring to the renewed effort.
He said the police have “reloaded” and are back in the drug war.
“The war on drugs is on, and this time, it is going to be more extensive, aggressive, and well-coordinated, with built-in systems that guarantee full accountability and instill internal discipline among all personnel,” dela Rosa added.
Human Rights Watch, an international watchdog, said last Thursday that Duterte had launched a “campaign of extrajudicial execution” and may be guilty of “crimes against humanity.”
Duterte responded that there is no humanity to speak of when referring to drug suspects.
The U.S. State Department expressed serious concerns Friday over vigilante justice and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in its annual report on human rights.
The State Department said “the most significant human rights problems were killings allegedly undertaken by vigilantes, security forces, and insurgents; cases of apparent governmental disregard for human rights and due process; and a weak and overburdened criminal justice system notable for slow court procedures, weak prosecutions, and poor cooperation between police and investigators.”
A former envoy to the U.S. noted that there was a danger that the U.S. might cut off millions of dollars in military aid over the drug war.
The PNP is reportedly forming a new task force, the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Group, to address the drug problem. The PNP is looking for “men of burning desire … to help in this campaign to help this country.”
Most Filipinos reportedly support the drug war; however, Filipino citizens would prefer that less people were killed during the course of the anti-narcotics campaign.