Philippine's Duterte to Disband Anti-Drug Police Units After Korean Murdered

  • Philippine leader says he’ll look to set up narcotics command
  • Korean businessman kidnapped and killed, allegedly by officers

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he’ll dissolve all police units involved in enforcing his war on illegal drugs after rogue officers were implicated in the murder of a South Korean businessman in October.

Duterte said he may set up a new narcotics command run by trusted men. He rejected national police chief General Ronald dela Rosa’s offer to resign over the death of Jee Ick Joo, saying it wouldn’t accomplish anything.

“Because of the sordid incident, let me reorganize the system,” Duterte said in a speech at the presidential palace on Sunday night after meeting with top military and police officials. He said a superintendent who allegedly masterminded the murder is now in police custody.

The move comes amid outrage at home and abroad over alleged human-rights abuses in a campaign that has seen the deaths of more than 6,000 people -- half of them at the hands of the police. Duterte has previously rebuffed criticism from the United Nations, European Union and U.S., including telling former President Barack Obama to “go to hell” in October while announcing a foreign-policy shift toward China.

The majority of Filipinos approve of Duterte’s war on drugs even if eight out of 10 worry they may become a victim of an extra-judicial killing, according to a Social Weather Stations poll in December. The president kept his “excellent” trust rating in the same poll at 81 percent.

Jee, a Philippine-based businessman, was allegedly kidnapped by rogue policemen in broad daylight and taken to the national police headquarters where he was killed, according to government prosecutors who investigated the crime. The cops served Jee a fake arrest warrant for a nonexistent drug case and extorted 5 million pesos ($100,000) from his wife, who gave the money in the belief he was still alive, according to the Justice Department.

“They could have killed, strangled him everywhere, anywhere, but that it had to happen inside Camp Crame is really bad,” Duterte said, referring to Jee. “And we admit that and that’s something that has to be corrected severely.”

— With assistance by Clarissa Batino

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