Feb. 28 (UPI) -- President Rodrigo Duterte ordered police to resume their war on drugs in the Philippines, one month after he suspended the program to concentrate on corruption in the force.
Duterte said Monday since the suspension of the operation, there has been "a gain, a rise of drug activities by 20 percent."
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which took over the campaign when the police's war on drugs was suspended, will continue to supervise anti-illegal drug operations, Duterte said.
He said he ordered Philippine National Police chief Bato dela Rosa "to recruit young men in the PNP who are imbued with fervor of patriotism to be the members only of the task forces."
On Jan. 30, the PNP suspended its war on drugs after several officers were accused of kidnapping and then killing a Korean businessman in October inside PNP headquarters under the cover of an anti-drug operation.
At the time Duterte said, "Cleanse your ranks. Review their cases. Give me a list of who the scalawags are."
PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa said drug traffickers were rejoicing after the police operation was halted. "The problem will worsen the longer we are not part of the war on drugs," he said.
Besides the police efforts, Duterte urged citizens to be pro-active against anyone committing a crime.
"An ordinary citizen of this country can make valid arrest," he said.
"Even if I am a civilian Rodrigo Duterte and if I have the arms, I will place you under arrest. And if you fight it out with me, I will kill you," Duterte said.
Since Duterte began his war on drugs when he became president in June, more than 7,000 people have been killed by police and suspected vigilante groups, officials said.
Rights agencies and the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have condemned Duterte for encouraging the killings of suspected criminals.
In July, Phelim Kine, deputy director of the Human Rights Watch's Asia Division, said "as long as Duterte is a cheerleader for the summary killing of criminal suspects, the fundamental right to life of all Filipinos is at risk from state-sanctioned murder.
In August, Agnes Callamard, the United Nations' special rapporteur on extra-judicial summary or arbitrary executions, said his orders are "effectively a license to kill" and "are irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law."