*(Original article from, The Telegraph): The Philippine police are to suspend their controversial war on drugs until “corrupt” officers can be rooted out, the chief of the force said on Monday, following the killing of a South Korean businessman. More than 7,000 people have been killed, including about 2000 in police operations, since a nationwide crackdown on drugs was instigated by President Rodrigo Duterte when he swept to power in June.
But after the kidnap and strangulation of Jee Ick-joo last October, in the grounds of the police headquarters by rogue officers of the anti-drug squad, Duterte said he was “embarrassed” and apologized. He accused the police of being “corrupt to the core.” His police chief Ronald dela Rosa, has faced pressure to resign but instead he said that anti-drugs units would be temporarily dissolved, to rid them of “scalawags”. “We will cleanse our ranks..then maybe after that, we can resume our war on drugs. The president told us to clean the organisation first,” said Dela Rosa. “I don’t know how long it will take to cleanse the PNP [Philippines National Police]. But with each and every one of us cooperating, helping each other, maybe in a month we can do it.”
Duterte has come under growing international criticism for the brutality of the war on drugs. After entering office saying he would “be happy to slaughter” millions of Fillipino drug users and peddlers, he has been accused of instigating a wave of uncontrolled violence. Thousands of victims, from among the Philippines’ poorest classes, have been murdered by unidentified hit squads. Many of the masked assassins are believed to be linked to the police, a charge the force strongly denies.
The murder of the South Korean prompted Duterte’s most outspoken critic, Senator Leila de Lima to call for the president and police chief to “categorically give the order to end the killings.” The dismantling of the anti-drugs unit meant “they are aware that the very men involved in anti-drugs operations…are involved in illegal activities under the guise of the so-called war on drugs,” she told a local TV channel.
But the war on drugs, a key pledge of President Duterte during his election campaign, is unlikely to come to a halt. Duterte vowed only on Sunday to forge ahead with his war on drugs until the last day of his term in 2020, which suggests that he may revive it once the fuss about the murdered South Korean dies down.
*(Original Online Article: The Telegraph News)*