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Trilllanes: PNP return to drug war Duterte's plan all along
President Rodrigo Duterte, labeled as a "tyrant" by a top critic, does a test fire on one of the sniper rifles donated by the Chinese government while the troops conduct a sniping capability demonstration during his visit at Fort Magsaysay in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija on November 22, 2017. Ace Morandante/Presidential Photo
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said the impending return of the police to the vicious campaign against narcotics was just meant to squelch mounting criticisms of the drug war following a string of teenager deaths in police operations.
"It is but his instrument to sow terror and fear in the hearts of his own people, so they would praise and worship him or at least won't criticize or oppose him," Trillanes said Friday.
"That is what a narcissistic tyrant like him longs for," he added.
Trillanes said that the impending return of the PNP to center stage in the government's war on drugs was Duterte's plan all along, claiming that the brief hiatus was just meant to "appease" public furor over the mounting number of drug-related deaths.
He stressed that Duterte's war on drugs was never about the eradication of narcotics on Philippine streets.
President Rodrigo Duterte indicated in the past days that he was mulling the return of the Philippine National Police to the campaign for fear that drug syndicates would use its absence to jack up their operations and pump more drugs into streets.
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The country's anti-drugs agency, which was assigned by Duterte to lead the anti-narcotics campaign after a slew of teenage killings in the hands of cops in August sparked never-before-seen public anger and resentment, welcomed the move as it admitted that it was underfunded and ill-resourced to tackle the problem.
"I am inclined to call back the police and join again in the drug war," the president said in a speech Friday before soldiers in San Miguel in Bulacan province north of the Philippine capital.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Sen. Grace Poe and the Commission on Human Rights all emphasized the need for the police to follow the law and due process once they re-assumed the lead role in the campaign.
Poe said that despite the cops' return it was the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency which was legally mandated to be the country's primary anti-drugs office.
She said that the police should serve as PDEA's main support which would provide "full operational muscle" that would fill the anti-narcotics office's lack of manpower.
"We must not forget that the PNP has been involved in too many controversial operations, thus casting doubt on the organization's ability to uphold the rule of law and respect basic rights," Poe said in a statement, stressing the need for the police to cleanse its ranks of corrupt and abusive officers.
READ: Drug war's revert to PDEA: Retreat, without real plan
The drug problem should also be seen from a wider perspective, according to Poe, who highlighted the need for it to be considered a health and socioeconomic issue.
Pimentel said that it was Duterte's "prerogative" to order the return of the cops and to pursue the drug war, one of his major domestic policy programs, in accordance with the chief executive's strategy, a view also shared by the country's rights commission.
However, the CHR underscored the need to respect the rule of law and respect human rights in anti-drugs operations.
"This includes demanding justice for deaths allegedly committed for this campaign," Jacqueline De Guia, CHR spokesperson, said.
She also noted that the PNP was yet to release the results of its internal probe into supposed abuses committed by its personnel.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who has been critical of the police conduct during their time at the helm of the campaign, said that the cops had already become wary of the consequences of their action and the excesses they may have committed.