Key cops helming Duterte’s drug war get top posts in reshuffle

MANILA • Police at the helm of the Philippine war on drugs were given top posts in the national force yesterday, indicating no let-up in a brutal crackdown that has caused global alarm, and defined President Rodrigo Duterte’s term.

The job of national police chief was given to Mr Oscar Albayalde, a strict disciplinarian who has been in charge of Metro Manila, where the vast majority of the thousands of drug war killings have occurred.

He was succeeded as commander of the capital police by Mr Camilo Cascolan, the architect of the controversial operational plan of the anti-drug campaign, “Double Barrel”.

About 4,100 people have been killed by police in the Philippines since July 2016 in what the authorities said were shootouts during anti-narcotics operations.

At least 2,300 drug-related deaths have occurred separately, at the hands of what police say are unknown assassins.
Human rights groups believe the death toll has been understated, and accuse the authorities of executing suspects and staging crime scenes.

Police deny that and say their more than 130,000 arrests prove their intent to preserve life.

Outgoing police chief Ronald Dela Rosa will head the bureau of corrections.

He is leaving behind a police force with “a sordid human rights record”, according to Mr Carlos Conde, a researcher for the New York-based Human Rights Watch.

In his departure speech, Mr Dela Rosa lauded Mr Duterte’s for his courage to order an all-out war on drugs, and pledged his “unquestionable loyalty” to him.

“It was an order I certainly could not refuse. I shared the same sentiments as the President and would not let pass the opportunity to do my share,” he said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline 'Key cops helming Duterte’s drug war get top posts in reshuffle'. Print Edition | Subscribe