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Palace: Amnesty International ‘demonizing’ PDEA, drug war to continue

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Malacañang on Saturday slammed Amnesty International for criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte's order for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) solely implement the government's war on drugs.

"The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which has been recently assigned by PRRD as the sole agency in charge of the government's anti-illegal drug campaign, is now being demonized by Amnesty International," Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

The Palace official made the statement after an official of the rights group was reported as saying that the PDEA's takeover of anti-illegal drug operations was a mere "public relations" stunt to ease growing opposition.

"While Amnesty International is known to be disparaging of the frontline role of the PNP (Philippine National Police) in the anti-illegal drug campaign, now it sees the relief of the agency as a mere public relations stunt," Abella said.

"PDEA is the new object of AI’s, and similar groups' ire and vilification," he added.

Abella said said the government will continue its drive to make the Philippines a "crime, corruption and illegal drug-free nation."

Duterte on October 10 signed a memorandum informing law enforcement agencies, including the PNP as well as all ad hoc task forces, to let PDEA "as sole agency" to conduct anti-illegal drugs campaign and operations.

"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.

Duterte's decision to exclude the PNP from the drug war came amid the outcry over the police's killings of teenagers in recent operations.

From July 1, 2016 to Sept. 15, 2017, a total of 3,850 drug suspects died in police operations. Authorities have maintained that these suspects fought it out with arresting officers.

Meanwhile, 85 police officers and soldiers have been killed while conducting anti-illegal drug operations while 204 have been critically wounded.

As of September 26, a total of 1,308,078 drug suspects have surrendered while 113,932 have been arrested. —Ted Cordero/ALG, GMA News

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