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Church u-turn after attack on bloody drugs crackdown

An attempt by police to rebrand their controversial anti-drugs campaign, in which more than 7,000 people have died so far, will see church representatives join officers on raids.

Head of police, Ronald dela Rosa, was quoted by The Times as saying: "We've relaunched our project: Double Barrel Reloaded.

"The war on drugs is on, and this time it is going to be more extensive, aggressive and well co-ordinated, with built-in systems that guarantee full accountability and instil internal discipline among all personnel.

AP Photo/Aaron Favila

"I hope that this will be less bloody, if not bloodless."

Elected last year on his pledge to wipe out the drugs trade in the Philippines, President Duterte's (pictured above) deadly crackdown was strongly criticised by Catholic bishops as the wrong answer to the problem of drugs trafficking.

They were quoted by Reuters in a letter last month as saying: "An even greater cause of concern is the indifference of many to this kind of wrong.

"It is considered as normal and, even worse, something that [according to them] needs to be done."

A spokesman for the president was quoted by Philippine media as responding: "The efforts of these church leaders might be put to better use in practical catechetics that build strong moral character among the faithful, and so contribute more to the reign of peace felt by ordinary citizens everywhere, especially those who are innocent of illegal activities."

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have suggested the killings by police could be warrant prosecution as crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

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