World

Philippine police 'reloaded' and back on drug war

MANILA The Philippine police chief said yesterday that his forces had "reloaded" and were back fighting the war on drugs, just over a month after they were withdrawn because of widespread corruption.

President Rodrigo Duterte said in January that he had suspended all police personnel from his drug crackdown as they were "rotten to the core".

National police chief Ronald Dela Rosa said reforms had been made to ensure there was no repeat of previous problems, which included anti-drugs officers kidnapping and murdering a South Korean businessman.

"This time it is going to be more extensive, aggressive and well coordinated, with built-in systems that guarantee full accountability and instil internal discipline among all personnel," he said.

The authorities had originally named the war, Double Barrel, in a reference to a two-pronged strategy of police fighting the drug war on the streets while also focusing on "high value" targets.

"We've relaunched our project: Double Barrel Reloaded," Mr Dela Rosa added.

Mr Duterte said in late January he planned to "cleanse" the police force, which has long been regarded as one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, before letting it return to the drug war frontlines.

Mr Dela Rosa's comments and the accompanying press release referred to specific measures to stop corrupt police officers from being involved in the drug war, rather than structural measures to tackle graft throughout the force.

Mr Duterte won presidential elections last year after promising to eradicate drugs in society by killing tens of thousands of people.

Since then, police have reportedly killed more than 2,550 people and nearly 4,000 others have died in unexplained circumstances, according to official figures. - AFP

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