MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday said it will practice extreme caution so suspects could be arrested alive in its "less bloody" return to the government's anti-narcotics campaign.
President Rodrigo Duterte in October put policemen in the backseat of the campaign following the spate of teenager deaths in anti-drug raids in Metro Manila.
He has signed a memorandum circular allowing the police to participate anew in the war on drugs led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Malacañang said Tuesday.
"Ang gusto po ni chief PNP [Director General Ronald Dela Rosa], take all necessary precautionary measure to ensure that less bloody and nahuhuli nang buhay ang mga suspek," PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos told DZMM.
"Sabi nga po ni chief PNP, full speed ahead but extreme caution," he added.
(The chief PNP wants us to take all necessary precautionary measure to ensure that operations are less bloody and suspects would be arrested alive. As the PNP chief said, full speed ahead but extreme caution.)
The PNP, he said, will also step up its internal cleansing to prevent rogue officers from sabotaging the drug fight.
Only the PNP Drug Enforcement Group will be allowed to mount anti-narcotics efforts. They have been ordered to wear body cameras to dispel allegations of irregularity, Carlos added.
The government has said over 3,800 were killed in legitimate anti-drug operations while some 1.3 million drug users surrendered.
Meanwhile, a Human Rights Watch official said the resumption of police anti-drug operations was not wholly unexpected.
Phelim Kine, HRW Asia Division deputy director, said PNP chief Dela Rosa was earlier quoted as saying that “Drug pushers are saying hallelujah" following the suspension of police anti-drug operations.
"Duterte may also have been emboldened by the unwillingness of either US President Donald Trump or fellow Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders to publicly challenge the drug war slaughter during the ASEAN 2017 Summit, which the Philippines hosted in November," he said in a statement.
He added: "Those failures highlight the need for United Nations action to investigate these killings, and end the murderous police operations on urban poor communities."