Philippine police today re-launched nationwide operations against illegal drugs after a one-month suspension, due to allegations of abuses and the murder of a South Korean businessman arrested on bogus drugs charges.
Ronald Dela Rosa, director-general of the national police, said the revived operations would involve community and church leaders and aim to focus on encouraging drug users and pushers to surrender.
“We are here to save lives. We are not here to claim lives,” he told a press conference in announcing the creation of a new anti-drug unit at the national police. “Do not be afraid, you drug addicts and pushers. This is your chance to have a new life.”
“Our aim is for this campaign to be bloodless, if possible,” he added. “But this is war so maybe it will just be less bloody. As long as no one fights back, blood will not flow.”
The police anti-drug operations called “tokhang,” which comes from two words that mean knock and plead, were suspended on Jan 30 after several police officers were accused of killing a South Korean businessman.
From the time Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in late June last year to Jan 30, 2,551 suspects have died in police operations against drug users and pushers, according to police statistics.
Police are also investigating nearly 3,000 additional deaths in the first six months of Duterte's presidency, including possible vigilante killings in connection with the war on drugs.