The Philippines' police forces need an ‘internal cleansing,’ said the country's new national police chief Thursday, in response to criticism about violations and abuses by the force in its aggressive campaign against illegal drugs.
Director Oscar Albayalde said he would ‘implement reforms at all levels’ of the national police, which has been criticized by rights groups for ignoring civil liberties during the anti-drug crackdown.
‘We will focus on imposing strict discipline, reform and internal cleansing,’ he said after taking over as head of the national police from Ronald Dela Rosa, who led President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign against illegal drugs.
At the same time, Albayalde said he would also: intensify the campaign against illegal drugs and criminality; strengthen public engagement; and implement practical programmes against crime prevention.
‘The fight against criminality and illegal drugs has already come a long way,’ he said. ‘The crime rate in the country has gone down ... and I will make sure that we will continue the good start in achieving the change promised by the president.’ ‘I shall continue my low-key but stern kind of leadership,’ he added.
Dela Rosa relinquished his post to Albayalde amid calls for Dela Rosa to be held accountable for the spate of killings amid the anti-drug war begun when Duterte's administration took office on July 1, 2016.
Human Rights Watch said the former police chief, popularly called Bato, the Filipino word for rock, will ‘leave behind a police force with sordid human rights record unmatched since the ... dictatorship’ of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
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