MANILA- Malacañang on Saturday alleged that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) was being "demonized" by rights group Amnesty International after President Rodrigo Duterte decided to make it the sole agency in charge of his war on drugs.
This, after James Gomez, an official of Amnesty International, has been quoted as saying that Duterte's decision "may be nothing but a short-term PR move" in response to growing criticism over his anti-narcotics campaign.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said PDEA was being "demonized" by the international rights group, which has been known to be "disparaging" of the Philippine National Police's previous role as the lead agency of Duterte's war on drugs.
"The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which has been recently assigned by PRRD (President Rodrigo Roa Duterte) as the sole agency in charge of the government's anti-illegal drug campaign, is now being demonized by Amnesty International," Abella said in a statement.
"PDEA is the new object of A.I.’s, and similar groups' ire and vilification," he added.
The international watchdog's comments however would have no effect on Duterte's decision.
"We are hopeful that operations of this agency will not be jeopardized by the interference of outside agencies that fail to appreciate our desire, not for a drug- tolerant, but drug-free nation," Abella said.
PDEA Chief Aaron Aquino had already warned of a slowdown in the anti-drug campaign, saying they only have a fraction of the personnel and budget of the police.
PDEA has about 2,000 personnel, 1,100 of which are agents, compared to about 175,000 police nationwide. -with a report from Reuters