MANILA - The Philippine National Police will stay within the ambit of the law despite President Rodrigo Duterte's warning to crack down on narcotics with more violence, the chief said Thursday.
Duterte said he will "be harsh and there might be widespread violence" as he tries to "finish" the drug problem alongside his police and military forces.
But Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde, chief of the PNP, said the President has been saying this since the beginning of his term but "there was no widespread violence actually."
"The President already repeatedly said that, but we perform our duties with accordance with the law. He didn’t say anything about going above the law," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Probably, it’s just a part of him and how he says things...When you talk to the President, he always gives this directive of you do your job or you perform your duties within the ambit of the law," he said.
Duterte, in the same speech, said he is "prepared" for the harshness and violence his drug war could instigate.
The Commission on Human Rights said it was "unfortunate" that a threat of a harsher, more violent drug war "in the face of unresolved deaths, as well as other forms of human rights violations" came during the National Human Rights Consciousness Week and the 70th year of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
"If the administration values human life, then human rights must be equally respected as there is no distinction between the two. We urge the government to uphold the rule of law and respect human rights, as part of its sworn obligation to Filipinos," Jacqueline de Guia, CHR spokesperson, said in a statement.
The police force had been in the front line of Duterte's war on drugs before the President transferred the reins to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency following a string of crimes linked to policemen's anti-narcotics operations.
Albayalde said some 1,600 officers have been dismissed for various reasons, including extortion and kidnapping, while another 674 were charged for violation of human rights.
An ABS-CBN monitoring of drug-related fatalities recorded 5,383 deaths from May 10, 2016, when Duterte was already seen to be the president-elect, until November 20 this year.