MANILA - Secretary to the Cabinet Leoncio Evasco Jr. clarified Monday that the Duterte administration's war on drugs has not been stopped but is a continuing campaign under a different law enforcement agency.
Evasco said the President merely transferred the responsibility from the Philippine National Police to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, but the same concept of the drug war remains. "I don't think there was a stoppage on this. It is just shifting from PNP to PDEA."
Over the weekend, there were calls from Senator Alan Peter Cayetano for President Duterte to re-launch the war on drugs, claiming that the drug trade has come back out of the shadows after Duterte halted anti-drug operations under the PNP's "Oplan Tokhang."
"Pag bumalik ang mga pusher, kasunod na n'yan ang patayan ng inosente, kasama na d'yan ang rape, ang nakawan. Kaya ngayong gabi, ako ay nakikiusap sa ating Pangulo at sa PNP: i-relaunch ninyo ang inyong anti-drug drive." Cayetano's said during the vigil-rally in support of the Duterte administration at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta Saturday.
But Evasco said: "I don't think there is a need to re-launch that because the president just shifted the mandate from PNP to PDEA. It is now the task of PDEA to continue what have been done by PNP."
Evasco, however, said PDEA have yet to provide Malacanang a report on how the war on drugs have progressed after the transfer. He also said the issue has not been discussed in Cabinet meetings lately.
"I hope in the coming meetings this will be discussed," he said.
More than 7,000 people have been killed since Duterte was sworn in almost eight months ago, about 2,500 of whom were killed in official police anti-narcotics operations. Human rights groups believe many of the killings are extra-judicial executions committed as part of the war on drugs, and in cooperation with the police - a claim the Duterte administration has repeatedly denied.