Crime & Justice

New Philippines police chief vows changes in war on drugs

Manila, Sep 2 (efe-epa).- The newly-appointed Philippines national police chief Camilo Cascolan on Wednesday promised changes to the controversial war on drugs, an initiative of President Rodrigo Duterte that has left thousands dead.

Cascolan said he would focus more attention on tackling powerful drug traffickers.

“We will intensify the anti-drugs campaign. We’ll make sure the high-value kingpins are stopped, we shouldn’t go after those who are suspected of small-scale trafficking alone,” he told reporters as he assumed the role.

Cascolan will only take charge of the PNP for a period of two months as he will be forced to step down on 10 November when he turns 56, in accordance with mandatory retirement age limits.

Duterte came to power in 2016 buoyed by the promise to unleash a war against drugs and organized crime in the Philippines and the campaign that unfolded has been severely criticized amid accusations of human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings.

The war on drugs has particularly affected poorer communities in the Philippines.

“We cannot deny there have been errors. We will evaluate our units and agents. We will make sure everyone follows the rules,” Cascolan added, announcing that one of his main focuses will be to clean the police service of corruption.

The PNP says 6,000 suspects have been killed in drug raids and insist that all those who have died as a result of police action had been resisting arrest.

Human rights groups say as much as 27,000 state-backed assassinations have been carried out amid an environment of impunity in the controversial war on drugs.

Cascolan has spent the last year as the PNP’s number two and was one of the architects behind Duterte’s war on drugs, which goes by the official name of Oplan Tokhang.

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