>> A new phase in Rodrigo Duterte's blood soaked battle against drugs in the Philippines. Sources exclusively telling Reuters, Project Double Barrel Alpha will refocus the crosshairs. Dialing back on drug suspect killings, taking aim at politicians, officials and even celebrities allegedly involved in the drug trade. Reuters' Clare Baldwin says the decision follows intense debate about how to tackle the narcotics problem.
>> The biggest change in this next phase in the drugs war is gonna be the focus on arrests rather than neutralization of drug suspects. Police have said that they want to respond to the EJK issue, which means the extrajudicial killings issue, which they say has become really problematic.
There are also thousands that have died as the result of vigilante style killings. A lot of them were on motor bike.>> News of the shift follows a Reuters report casting doubt on Duterte's campaign. Specifically his statements about how big the drug problem is in the Philippines.>> President Rodrigo Duterte has been claiming that there is 3.7 million drug users in the country.
There was a household survey done in 2015 by the Dangerous Drugs Board, by their estimate, there are only 1.8 million people who use drugs. If you speak to some of the top anti-narcotics officials in the Philippines, they say it doesn't matter at all. What matters is that for the first time ever, they've got the resources to go after something that they know is a problem.
And if that problem is described as bigger then it actually is, they don't care.>> So far the drug war has focused overwhelmingly on impoverished drug users. Sparking criticism of a war on the poor. After years when officials arrested on drug charges were more likely to be set free than spend even a minute behind bars.