Change of strategy in the drugs war. Suppliers and "big fish" now targeted. The president removes the national police operations and attacks detractors. Consensus among Philippine electorate plummets.
Manila (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to expel the European ambassadors from the country, accusing their governments of interfering with internal politics and calling for Manila to withdraw from the United Nations. He said he would not tolerate European criticism of the drug war conducted by the administration that began 15 months ago with his rise to power.
During a public hearing yesterday broadcast by national televisions, Duterte read a memorandum that removes the national police from operations, transferring the post to the Philippine Anti-Drug Agency (Pdea).
The government has ordered the dissolution of 18 regional anti-drug units, stating that it wants to bring the objectives of operations to a higher level, to target suppliers and "big fish" justice. Drug addicts and small-scale drug dealers have so far been the most affected by the presidential campaign.
Police say the deaths confirmed and attributable to law enforcement blitz are 3,850. Several thousand people have been killed in "inexplicable situations", many international organizations, including the European Union, charge they are "extrajudicial killings". Human rights activists claim that they are operated by incognito cops and paid assassins.
Duterte said he hoped that the change of targets would satisfy the "bloody hearts" of the Western States, fixated by the high number of deaths of his brutal repression. The change of strategy in the war against drugs comes in a difficult time for him. A survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) reveals that the degree of appreciation of the Philippine electorate towards the president dropped below 50%. It's the worst since Duterte assumed the presidency.