Philippine army to create task force to chase big drug syndicates
19 Feb 2017 - 23:50
Manila: The Philippine army will create a "battalion size" task force to help the government's anti-narcotics agency run after high-value targets in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, the country's military chief said.
Duterte — who recently suspended the national police from the anti-narcotics campaign that has killed over 7,700 people in seven months — has ordered the military to play a role in his crackdown. He has said that he also wants to grant troops powers to arrest "scalawag" police.
The announcement came after it emerged last month that drug squad officers had killed a South Korean businessman at national police headquarters. The troops, however, will only provide back-up in the campaign and not patrol the streets or play any kind of leading role, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Isidro Lapena said earlier this month.
"We are ready to operate with the PDEA. (The task force) is yet to be created, but we are talking about a battalion size," Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief General Eduardo Ano told reporters late on Saturday in Baguio City, where Duterte attended a military alumni homecoming.