MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the police and other law enforcement agencies to rejoin anti-drug operations, overturning his earlier directive to leave it to the government's anti-drug agency to handle the much-criticized campaign, his spokesman said Tuesday.
A month before a November summit in Manila of Asian and Western leaders, Duterte pulled the police from his bloody war on drugs amid criticism from human rights advocates, foreign governments and the United Nations of a campaign that has left thousands of drug suspects dead in police operations.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte's new memorandum directs the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies "to resume providing active support" to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in anti-drug operations. It supersedes Duterte's earlier directive, he added.
Roque said Duterte recognizes that the government's anti-drug campaign has been seriously hampered by the PDEA's lack of resources, including agents and operatives, and that there has been a notable resurgence in drug crime since the police and other law enforcement agencies were directed to leave the campaign.
Meanwhile, oral arguments were heard in the Supreme Court for a third day Tuesday on petitions challenging Duterte's war on drugs.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said there was a day when 32 drug suspects were killed in one province in nine hours and a similar number killed in one city, and that Duterte was quoted as saying that was a good result that should happen every day. Solicitor General Jose Calida responded that Duterte may have been in a joking mood.