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20 killed in Manila overnight after bloody Bulacan raid

In this Sept. 6, 2016 photo, policemen check the gun recovered from one of two unidentified drug suspects after they were shot dead by police as they tried to evade a checkpoint in Quezon City, Philippines. Within 11 hours from Aug. 16 to Aug. 17, 2017, at least 20 more were killed in various districts of Manila city. AP

MANILA, Philippines — At least 20 people were killed in different areas in Manila overnight in supposed confrontations with police, adding to the increasing death toll in President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial war on drugs.

News5 reported the recorded deaths of five people in Santa Cruz, three in Malate, two in Sampaloc, three at Santa Ana Hospital, four at the Ospital ng Maynila and one in Ermita.

Police claimed having found sachets of shabu, a street version of metamphetamine hydrochloride, and handguns were recovered at the scenes.

The Manila killings followed another bloody round of deaths in Bulacan province. On Wednesday, police said that an updated report shows anti-drug operations in a Bulacan province this week left 32 alleged drug offenders dead — 11 more than earlier reported as the highest death toll in a single day since Duterte launched his narcotics war a year ago.

Senior Superintendent Romeo Caramat, Bulacan police Director, said they conducted a total of 66 province-wide operations between 12 midnight of August 15 and 12 midnight of August 16.

Caramat said they had 20 armed encounters that resulted in the deaths and arrests of 107 drug suspects in their "one-time, big-time operation."

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The operation also yielded illegal drugs—methamphetamine and marijuana—firearms, grenades and ammunition.

Despite the record number of deaths in just a day, Caramat asserted that police were left with no choice but to use force as many of the suspects resisted arrest.

"Kinukwestyon nila kung bakit ganun karami (number of deaths), all I can say is we don’t have the control of the situation," the Bulacan police chief said at a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City on Wednesday.

"As much as possible we wanted to remove those elements that would lead to bloody encounter, that is the reason why meron kaming element of surprise during our operations," he added.

Caramat defended their bloody operations by saying that those who were killed are "notorious" in their areas.

"As I have said before, itong mga subject namin sa one-time, big-time operation ito ‘yung mga notorious na drug pushers. We all know tinawag silang notoroious dahil hindi sila pahuhuli ng buhay," he said.

Chief Superintendent Dionardo Carlos, PNP spokesperson, assured the public that their Internal Affairs Service will look into the operation.

Caramat, meanwhile, is confident that his officers did not commit any violations.

"We are really open for any investigation. On our part we know that we have done nothing wrong," he said.

Duterte, meanwhile, praised the massive Bulacan operation and the rate of deaths. "Maganda 'yun (That's good)," he said in Malacañang on Wednesday night.

"Pumatay tayo (Let’s kill) another 32 everyday, maybe we can reduce what ails this country," he added.

READ: Maganda 'yun: Duterte praises bloody Bulacan raids

Duterte said that while he is expecting human rights advocates to condemn the Bulacan killings, police are doing their job. "They (police) are protected under my watch," he said.

More than 3,400 so-called drug personalities have been killed in law enforcement operations since June last year, according to the latest data released by government. Police would attribute the deaths to an act of self-defense on the part of arresting authorities, but evidence culled by human rights organizaton suggest that many of those killed were initially unarmed.

Thousands others have been killed in various incidents nationwide by masked gunmen, sometimes on motorcycles. The fatalities were categorized by police as "deaths under investigation," a tally which climbed to 8,200 by June 30. — Reports from News5, AJ Bolando, Jonathan de Santos and the Associated Press

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