Rodrigo Duterte suspends Philippines' war on drugs

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Jan. 30, 2017 at 7:33 AM
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Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he ordered the National Police to suspend the country's war on drugs and to "cleanse" itself from corruption.

The move comes after the kidnapping and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo, 53, who was abducted from his home in October during a raid by rogue anti-drug officers and brought to a headquarters of the National Police Quezon City. Jee was strangled and then cremated, Philippine Justice Department officials said.

"Cleanse your ranks. Review their cases. Give me a list of who the scalawags are," Duterte said referring to the police late Sunday.

Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Ronald dela Rosa on Monday said he dissolved all anti-drug units to shift efforts to fighting corruption.

"We will cleanse our ranks ... then maybe after that, we can resume our war on drugs," Dela Rosa said at a press conference. "Rogue cops, beware! We no longer have a war on drugs; we now have a war on scalawags."

Since Duterte's war on drugs began when he became president in June, more than 7,000 people have been killed by police and suspected vigilante groups, officials said. Human rights organizations fear the death toll could be higher. Duterte last week apologized for Jee's death -- promising to punish those responsible to a maximum sentence. Officials said those responsible for Jee's death pretended he was still alive to collect a $100,000 ransom from his wife.

Duterte on Sunday extended his self-imposed deadline of eradicating the Philippines' drug problem from March, which was already extended from December, until "the last day of my term" in 2022.

"You policemen are the most corrupt. You are corrupt to the core. It's in your system," Duterte said .

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