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Philippines Suspends Bloody Anti-Drug Crackdown

  • VOA News

Jerry Umlang (R) answers questions from the members of the media regarding his alleged involvement in the kidnapping and murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-Joo while Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre (L) looks on during a press bri

The Philippine police have ended a controversial anti-drug operation in response to the kidnapping and brutal murder of a South Korean businessman by anti-narcotics officers.

National Police Chief Roland Dela Rosa says local anti-narcotics units will go through a period of "internal cleansing" to get rid of rogue officers, whom he described as "scalawags."

Dela Rosa's announcement came just hours after President Rodrigo Duterte openly accused as many as 40 percent of policemen of corruption, as he deals with the fallout over the death of Jee Ick-joo in Manila last October. The suspected officers are accused of kidnapping Jee for ransom.

More than 7,000 people have died since Duterte launched a brutal and deadly crackdown of illicit drugs shortly after taking office last June. Human rights groups say the victims were denied due process of law, but police have claimed self-defense in the killings.

Despite the cloud caused by Jee's death, Duterte is vowing to continue with his anti-drug crackdown across the archipelago until he leaves office in 2022, discarding a promise to end the operations in March of this year.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has issued a statement saying unless Duterte "seeks meaningful accountability" for the bloody crackdown, his order to suspend the operations amounts to nothing more than a public relations stunt.