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But an admission by the national police chief last week that a South Korean businessman was murdered by members of his Anti-Illegal Drugs Group confirmed critics' fears about rogue officers taking advantage of the drug war.
Police Director-General Ronald Dela Rosa said on Monday that the country's unprecedented war on drugs had accentuated the issue of police corruption within the force.
Rodrigo Duterte said he was embarrassed that anti-drugs officers had abused their power to engage in kidnapping, leading to the death by strangulation of Jee Ick-joo at the national police headquarters.
He had been kidnapped and killed by anti-drug police.
Duterte's anti-drug campaign has caused alarm in the West and rights groups accuse Duterte of turning a blind eye to a wave of alleged extrajudicial killings by police, mostly of low-level peddlers.
"We'll finish first the war on drugs".
USA -based Human Rights Watch has issued a statement saying unless Duterte "seeks meaningful accountability" for the bloody crackdown, his order to suspend the operations amounts to nothing more than a public relations stunt.
"I will extend it to the last day of my term", Mr Duterte said. "They are unloading arms in Palawan, in Cagayan de Oro, and in Pampanga", the President said in a news conference.
Although estimates vary, over 7,000 people are thought to have died in drug war-related incidents since the campaign began in July a year ago. "Dela Rosa's announcement is a cynical triumph of form over substance because it reaffirms that he has no interest in a meaningful probe into the circumstances of the police killings of 2,546 suspected drug users and drug dealers since July 1", Kine said.
Dela Rosa cited the good start of the PNP in the war on illegal drugs, however, they could not do anything but to follow the directives of President Duterte. Dela Rosa offered his resignation, but Duterte rejected it.
"You policemen involved in syndicates, let's see what happens now".
During the election campaign period a year ago, President Duterte promised to wipe out illegal drugs in the first six months of his administration. "It could be a narcotics command or whatever", he said, adding that he believes 40 percent of the police use their authority to commit crime. "In the meantime, the PNP should summarily dismiss these scoundrels and file the necessary criminal cases to serve an example to others that no one is above the law", Batocabe said. "Now, kung may mga policies siya (if he has policies) to protect his country, I will understand", he also said.
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