Philippine minister accuses senior police of involvement in drugs trade

3 weeks ago 52

MANILA, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Efforts by Philippine authorities to crack down on drugs under President Ferdinand Marcos Jr are being hampered by the involvement of a few high-ranking police officials in the narcotics trade, the interior minister said on Wednesday.

In the past six months, authorities have confiscated 10 billion pesos ($178 million) worth of methamphetamine, including a record seizure of 990 kilogrammes (2,182.58 lb) with an estimated street value of 6.7 billion pesos in October.

Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos appealed for the voluntary resignation of police holding the rank of colonels up to generals to restore trust in anti-narcotics operations after some of them were suspected of having links to the drug trade.

"This is one way of cleansing our ranks. Let us start afresh," Abalos told a news conference.

While only a few senior police officers were believed to have a role in the drugs trade, they held critical positions, Abalos said, without elaborating.

Roughly 300 officers hold the rank of colonel to general in the 227,000-strong police force.

Asked for comment, Police Colonel Redrico Maranan, head of public information for the force, told reporters officers would follow the decisions of political leaders "because we know all these are for the good of our organisation."

Former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte faced international condemnation for launching a bloody anti-narcotics crackdown, with more than 6,200 people killed in police operations during his term between 2016 and 2022.

Police have rejected allegations the killings were executions, saying the drug suspects violently resisted arrest and that authorities acted in self-defence.

In November, police said killings in anti-drugs operations would be minimised, as the administration of Marcos focused on rehabilitation and education.

Since Marcos took office in June, authorities have conducted more than 24,000 sting operations, arrested around 30,000 people and killed around a dozen drug suspects, according to police data.

($1 = 56 Philippine pesos)

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales Editing by Ed Davies

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