Duterte to soldiers: Arrest corrupt policemen

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Embarrassed and disappointed with a police organization deep into corruption, President Rodrigo Duterte calls on the military to help in cleansing the Philippine National Police (PNP) of rogue cops — who have mired the administration's flagship campaign against illegal drugs.

Duterte admitted on Tuesday in front of newly-sworn in officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Malacañang that he was running out of options after ranking police officers have been implicated in the kidnap-slay of a Korean businessman in the guise of an anti-drug operation.

Related: Duterte to Korean widow: Justice will be swiftly served

Now, the President wanted soldiers to handcuff dirty policemen until such time when he would have reorganized the drug enforcement setup of the PNP.

"Kung hindi ko kayo ipasok sa laro, patay ako. Walang magtingin diyan sa abusadong pulis [If I would not bring soldiers in, all will be lost. No one would  go after corrupt policemen]," Duterte said in apparent desperation — citing that 6,000 policemen were into the illegal drug trade.

"The culture of corruption sa police matindi [There is severe/rampant culture of corruption in the PNP]."

The President explained that the arresting power of the military would stem from the state of national emergency due to lawlessness which he had declared last September. He said this gave the military the authority to help out in the drug war.

Related: Duterte seeks PNP revamp to get rid of corrupt cops

Meanwhile, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella clarified that the government's anti-drug operations would continue despite the suspension of "Oplan Tokhang" and "Oplan Double Barrel."

"Impression is that it stopped. No. What happens is the local PNP has been asked to desist from engaging in anti-drug operations but the operations will continue under the PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency)," Abella said.

The Palace spokesman also said the President was also eyeing the reactivation of the Philippine Constabulary (PC), which used to be the law enforcement arm of the AFP.

If this pans out, the PC will eventually lead law enforcement on a national scale, leaving the PNP with law enforcement at the local level.

Abella said the President believed that unlike civilian police officers, soldiers would be less vulnerable to corruption.

The PC gained notoriety during the Marcos regime for arresting critics of the administration — with allegations of abductions, torture, and other human rights abuses.

Then it was merged in 1991 with what used to be the Integrated National Police (PC-INP) to form the now PNP.

Abella said the PC could begin with a clean slate under the Duterte administration — "assuming that they would be in a better moral position."

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong contributed to this report.