Dela Rosa: If drug crimes rise, I'll ask Duterte to return war on drugs to PNP

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 16) — Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald Dela Rosa said Monday he would ask President Rodrigo Duterte to allow policemen to lead the war on drugs again  -- if he thinks the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is not doing a good job.

Duterte has ordered the PDEA to take over the helm of anti-drug operations from the PNP amid allegations of abuses and extra judicial killings related to the drug war.

RELATED: Duterte gives PDEA lead role in drug war

"Siguro 'pag tingin natin lumala na nang husto, bumalik na naman sa dati na makabili ka ng shabu sa kalsada – na transaction ng shabu open na open, walang nakiki-alam, siguro i-volunteer ko kay President, 'sir ibalik niyo na kami, wag natin pabayaan maging kawawa ang Pilipinas'," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: If we see that things are worse, if shabu is again sold openly in the streets and no one is stepping in, I might tell the President "Sir, bring us back in, let's not allow the country to deteriorate.]

The PNP chief appealed to the public to trust the police, saying they value life.

Change in anti-drug campaign leadership

The PNP Chief made the appeal after Pulse Asia released a survey Monday  showing 73% of Filipinos believed state-sponsored killings exist in the administration's crackdown on illegal drugs.

On Thursday, Dela Rosa told CNN Philippines' The Source he had mixed reactions on the turnover.

"Happy ako pero mixed emotions.  May halong kalungkutan dahil we have devoted yung aming energy, yung aming resources for the last [year and a half], nakafocus doon sa war on drugs," he said.

READ: PNP Chief: PDEA lead in drug war shows 'President isn't a dictator'

The police chief also expressed reservations about PDEA's capabilities to take on the drug war in terms of manpower, saying the police would leave behind a "vacuum."

PDEA recognized this challenge.

"Definitely, it will leave a big vacuum especially on street-level operations," PDEA spokesperson Derrick Arnold Carreon said, referring to the withdrawal of the PNP in drug operations.

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

"Unlike before when PDEA used to focus only on high-value targets and high-impact operations, this time we will have to fill in the gap where PNP left off. So we will go high-value, we will go mid-level, we will go street-level if the situation calls for it," he added.

The Philippine National Police has a 195,000 work force.  PDEA has 1,038 agents out of their 1,898 personnel nationwide.

CNN Philippines Correspondent Camille Abadicio, and Digital Producers Regine Cabato and Ver Marcelo contributed to this report.