PNP wants 'police with integrity' as it relaunches war on drugs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — A little less than 500 policemen—those belonging to the 'cream of the crop'— are relaunching the drug war from scratch.

Undermanned and still without a formal office space, the newly-formed Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (PNP DEG) is revalidating data on high-value targets with the help of local drug enforcement units, as well as its own counterintelligence group.

It has also conducted 103 operations in just three days, arresting 145 drug personalities and killing 9.

DEG chief and Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares said the 477-member DEG will focus only on financiers, manufacturers, distributors, traffickers and protectors.

"The rest, at the regional level pababa, doon sila sa Tokhang reloaded portion," Mijares said in a media briefing Friday.

[Translation: Those on the regional level, down to the station level, will focus on the Tokhang reloaded portion.]

Mijares said they also organized regional police drug enforcement units in local levels.

"Pwede natin silang i tap, pwede natin silang magamit and we can also assist them if they have big operations involving high value targets," he said.

[Translation: We can tap them, we can use them and we can also assist them if they have big operations involving high value targets.]

The war on drugs is on its seventh month. President Rodrigo Duterte suspended it in late January over corruption claims against policemen.

This was after several members of the dissolved Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) got involved in the killing of a South Korean businessman.

More than 2,500 were killed during police operations in the previous campaign. Including vigilante killings, the number of deaths can reach around 7,000.

The DEG is still looking for more than 420 members who will undergo strict scrutiny consisting of a background check "from birth up to their current status."

"(Nagrerecruit) tayo (from different parts of the region). Ang hinahanap lang naman natin is yung, of course, may integridad na kapulisan natin na may alam na rin sa trabaho na walang bahid ng mga kaso involving illegal drugs," Mijares said.

[Translation: We are recruiting from different parts of the region. We are looking for police officers with integrity who already have knowledge of the job and have no case involving illegal drugs.]