Duterte: PNP will lead anti-drug ops again

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 22) — President Rodrigo Duterte says he will eventually direct the Philippine National Police (PNP) to take the lead in his anti-drug war again.

He confirmed this during his visit to the Special Operations Command of the Philippine Army in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija Wednesday.

He expressed concern that the drug problem may worsen with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) leading anti-drug operations.

"As of now, just to parry, nilagay ko sa PDEA [I put it in the hands of PDEA]. But whether I like it or not, I have to return that power to the police because surely, it will increase the activity of the shabu," Duterte said.

Duterte handed over the reins to the government's campaign against illegal drugs to PDEA in October.

READ: Duterte gives PDEA lead role in drug war

The memorandum stated, "Leave to the PDEA as sole agency, the conduct of all campaigns and operations against all those who, directly or indirectly, and in whatever manner or capacity, are involved in or connected with, illegal drugs."

It did, however, say all information received on the drug war would be "relayed, delivered, or brought to the attention of the PDEA for its appropriate action."

On October 13,  PDEA Spokesperson Derrick Arnold Carreon said they did not have enough manpower to take on the responsibility from the PNP.

READ: PDEA: Police removal from war on drugs leaves 'big vacuum'

On the same day, PNP Chief Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa told CNN Philippines' The Source, President Duterte made the change because he listened to people's sentiments about the war on drugs.

"Frustrated si Presidente sa mga nega reactions ng taong bayan. It goes to show na si Presidente, hindi diktador, na nakiramdam siya sa pulso ng taong bayan," Dela Rosa said.

"Kung totoong sentimiento ng general public ang lumabas sa survey, sabi ni Presidente, 'Well, I am working for the Filipino people.' Kung ano ang gusto ng taong bayan, dissatisfied sila sa war on drugs, eh hinto natin," he added.

[Translation: The President is frustrated by the people's negative reactions. It goes to show he's not a dictator, he feels the pulse of the people. If the true sentiments of the general public come out in the survey, the President says, 'Well, I am working for the Filipino people.' Whatever the people want; if they are dissatisfied with the war on drugs, then let's stop it.]

In his earlier speeches, the President said that while he believes that PDEA is qualified to carry out anti-drug operations, the agency does not have enough manpower to dismantle the drug organization.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Camille Abadicio, Digital Producer Ver Marcelo, and multi-platform writer Regine Cabato contributed to this report.