MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's conflicting statements about the suspension of the drug operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and his continued war against illegal drugs "offer little hope" to end the wave of extrajudicial killings, rights advocate Amnesty International said.
"Even as the police have vowed to shut their operations down, President Duterte has pledged to continue his so-called ‘war on drugs’. These contradictory statements offer little hope that the wave of extrajudicial executions that has claimed more than a thousand lives a month will end," Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan said.
Hassan lamented that often the police, tasked to uphold the law, are also involved in illegal activities.
"It is no secret that corruption is rife among the police. As our report, out tomorrow, shows, the people who are tasked with upholding law and order have planted ‘evidence’, robbed victims’ homes and falsified reports," Hassan said.
"But the ultimate responsibility for the police’s actions lies at the very top of government. The problem is not a few bad policemen but the government’s deadly anti-drug policy," she added.
A new report by Amnesty International also details how the police have been targeting mostly poor people across the country, planting "evidence" and fabricating incident reports.
PNP Chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa on Monday directed all police units to halt anti-narcotics efforts and prioritize instead the "internal cleansing" of its ranks.
Calls for a suspension of the war on drugs intensified following the death of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo who was abducted by policemen and strangled to death inside Camp Crame.
Duterte himself on Sunday ordered the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) to disband, saying he was embarrassed that anti-drugs officers had abused their power to engage in kidnapping.