The Philippine defence ministry has asked President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an order for the military to play a role in his “war on drugs”, including granting troops powers to arrest “scalawag” police.
The ministry on Wednesday asked Duterte to formalise remarks he made in a speech to army generals the day before, when he said he wanted their help in the wide crackdown on drug-users and drug dealers alike, as well as to detain members of a police force Duterte said was “corrupt to the core”.
The ministry asked for “an official order regarding this presidential directive to serve as a legal basis for our troops to follow”.
“By the same token, the president’s verbal directive to arrest ‘scalawag cops’ should also be covered by a formal order,” the ministry said in a statement.
Duterte’s police chief instructed the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday to suspend their anti-drugs operations after the killing of a South Korean businessman by rogue drug-squad police. Duterte was infuriated and embarrassed by the incident, which he said had “international implications”.
Duterte’s suggestion that the military should step in to fill the void left by police marks a stunning change of tack by the former city mayor, who had steadfastly supported the police amid allegations from human rights groups and some politicians of widespread abuses of power.