NUEVA ECIJA -- President Rodrigo Duterte is definitely going to delegate back to the Philippine National Police (PNP) a major role in the deadly anti-narcotics crackdown.

Speaking before the troops of Army's Special Operations Command Wednesday, November 22, the President said he has to return to the PNP its jurisdiction over the brutal war on narcotics trade because the drug menace has continued to worsen.

Duterte, however, clarified that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) would remain the lead agency for the campaign.

"Shabu (trading) is really an organized crime. But as of now, just to parry, I tasked PDEA (as sole agency to address the drug problem)," he said in a speech delivered here inside Camp Fort Magsaysay.

"But whether I like it or not, I have to return the power to the police because surely, it will increase the acitivity of the (illegal drugs trade)," he added.

The President earlier floated the idea of giving back to the police a major role in the drug war. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque had also confirmed that this was an option.

Duterte tasked PDEA on October 10 to be the sole agency implementing the government's war on drugs, after taking the PNP off the campaign following the controversial killings of 17-year-old Kian Lloyd delos Santos and 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz in separate operations by Caloocan policemen in August.

The killings of these teenagers, which sparked nationwide protests, were the latest in a string of deaths in line with the police campaign against narcotics. Police had reported that nearly 4,000 were killed during their campaign.

After they were stripped of their role in the drug war, the police were directed to merely maintain police visibility "as a deterrent to illegal drug activities."

It was the second time that the police were taken off the drug war. In late January this year, the PNP was also told to suspend anti-drug operations and focus on cleansing its ranks, after several officers were implicated in the abduction and killing of a Korean national.

Earlier Wednesday, November 22, National Capital Region Police Office Director Oscar Albayalde told state-run dzRB that the crime rate and supply of illegal drugs have risen since Duterte stripped the police force of their role in the government's drug war.

Almost a week ago, PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa also noted an increase in rape-slay cases , hinting that the crime situation worsened after the police were taken off the drug war. Dela Rosa pointed out a direct correlation between drug abuse and rape-slay cases.

PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon, during an interview with dzRB, said the agency welcomed the possible participation of the PNP anew in carrying out anti-drug operations. (SunStar Philippines)