The Philippine National Police will disband its anti-drugs units following the killing of a South Korean businessmen by rogue officers, but President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Sunday to forge ahead with his war on drugs until the last day of his term.
Duterte said he was embarrassed that anti-drugs officers had abused their power to engage in kidnapping, leading to the death by strangulation of Jee Ick-joo, on the grounds of Camp Crame - the PNP's national headquarters.
"Maybe I will establish a command. Narcotics command... Ibalik ko ang narcotics command," Duterte said. "Ibalik ko ang simpleng titulo: theft and robbery, homicide... arson. Ibalik natin sa--para focus."
The president explained further that police stations would no longer have anti-drug units. "Wala na iyon. If you violate that, I will dismiss you kung meron. Hindi lang iyon, bugbugin pa kita para may remembrance ka sa akin. Sinabi ko na na huwag eh," he said.
Duterte added that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) would be the "overall head" of the anti-illegal drugs campaign, and that the PNP's anti-narcotics unit would be working closely with the PDEA.
PNP chief, Ronald dela Rosa, said the breakup of anti-drugs units was necessary to rebuild them, but it could disrupt the progress of the campaign.
"We will dissolve all anti-drugs units in the police," he told a joint news conference with Duterte, when asked if he would overhaul the police.
"I will do my job to the best of my ability I hope I will not fail the president and the Filipino people."
More than 7,000 people have been killed since Duterte, nicknamed "the punisher", unleashed his bloody crackdown seven months ago, some 2,250 in police operations and the rest still mostly under investigation.
His six-year term ends in 2022.
Police say many of those so far unsolved could be the work of vigilantes or inter-gang drugs violence.
The campaign has caused alarm in the West and rights groups accuse Duterte of turning a blind eye to a wave of extrajudicial killings by police, mostly of low-level peddlers. Police deny that and say the killings are in self-defence.
Duterte said police who had been subject of internal investigations should be reassigned to work in conflict zones.
"Because of the sordid incident (the Jee Ick-joo killing), let me reorganize the system. Kalaban natin dito ang mga pulis na kriminal," he said. "Naka-kidnap na, nanghold-up na ang mga p***** i**** kayo, tapos may sweldo pa."
"Siniswerte kayo kung ganoon. Gawain n'yo ang Pilipinas ganoon? Huwag panahon sa akin. Mag-engkwentro tayo. You are just as lousy as the drug lords," Duterte added.
The president also said that cops with pending cases would be sent to Basilan and Lanao del Sur, where security forces were dealing with terror organizations.
Fighting drugs and crime was the key platform of Duterte's election campaign, during which he promised to eradicate illicit drugs within six months.
He said he underestimated the depth of problem, and on Sunday promised the crackdown would continue to the end of his six-year presidency, and criticism would not stop him.
"I do not give a shit, I have a duty to do, and I will do it," he said. — with a report from Reuters/DVM, GMA News