7 more drug suspects killed
Non Alquitran (The Philippine Star) - June 22, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The body count keeps rising.

Seven more suspected drug pushers were killed in separate incidents in Morong and San Mateo towns in Rizal, in Quezon City and in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, police reported yesterday.

The killing of the seven followed those of 16 alleged drug pushers slain in separate gun battles with police in Pampanga, Southern Tagalog, Taguig City and North Cotabato.

The seven brought to 58 the number of drug-related killings since the May 9 elections.

Three of the seven were killed in a gun battle with police during a drug sting in San Mateo, Rizal on Monday.

Two more were killed in an encounter with police at a gasoline station in Barangay Piñahan, Quezon City. Another suspect was reported killed in Morong, Rizal and one in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur.

Police identified the three slain suspects in San Mateo as Joel Parungao, Roel Avila and Letlet Belmonte. Police also arrested five other suspects during a drug sting operation.

Policemen also killed a still unidentified suspect in Morong last Monday.

The suspect reportedly shot it out after sensing he was dealing with undercover policemen during a sting operation in Barangay Maybangcal.

Two were killed by policemen during a botched drug sting operation in Quezon City yesterday.

Police said Amintao Khalid Makaindig and Ala Asnawe Macaayong were killed by responding lawmen that had them cornered along NIA Road.

The suspects reportedly sensed policemen approaching them during a drug deal at a gasoline station along EDSA in Barangay Piñahan.

The two drove off while firing at the approaching lawmen until they were cornered in a brief shootout along NIA Road, police said.

In Lagonoy, Roy Abagan was killed during a shootout with policemen serving a warrant of arrest on drug charges.

‘Doable’

The killing of drug suspects has increased as outgoing Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is preparing for his inauguration on June 30 as the 16th president of the republic.

Duterte made a campaign promise to eradicate crime and illegal drugs in the first six months of his presidency.

Incoming interior secretary Ismael Sueño said Duterte’s promise to suppress crime in three to six months is doable.

Sueño said Duterte has assured the public that human rights would be respected in all law enforcement operations.

“I think it is possible,” Sueño said in a chance interview last Monday.

“Even right now, there are many drug addicts who have surrendered and many drug lords who have sent emissaries to us that they have stopped selling (drugs). Many of them are already afraid. We are validating if they really stopped,” he added.

Sueño said in South Cotabato alone, close to 200 drug addicts have surrendered to authorities.

He, however, said a total eradication of crime may not be possible.

“No, I don’t think we can eradicate 100 percent but we can do a considerable decrease,” Sueño said.

Various sectors, including the Catholic Church, are worried that Duterte’s strong anti-criminality drive would encourage extralegal killings and abusive practices.

Sueño, however, assured the public that human rights violations would not be tolerated.

“Mayor Duterte follows the rule of law. He does not want to see many people being killed. He prefers dialogue,” he added.

Duterte, at one time, promised to burn down the National Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City where he said thousands of drug suspects are detained but continue their illicit trade.

Duterte claimed one-fourth of the market for illegal drugs comes from the NBP.

He said he would have NBP burned to the ground to put an end to one source of illegal drugs in the country.

Chief Supt. Ronald dela Rosa, Duterte’s choice as the next chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), bared earlier that drug lords in NBP had offered a P10-million reward to kill him and the incoming president.

Since there were no takers, the reward was increased to P50 million each.

The bounty from the drug lords came after Duterte offered rewards for every drug offender killed. He has promised P5 million for every dead drug lord, P3 million for a syndicate member and P50,000 for a small-time pusher.    

No such bounty

Several high-profile inmates, however, denied the existence of any plot.

In a three-page manifesto sent to acting Justice Secretary Emmanuel Caparas, 16 of the high-profile inmates isolated at Building 14 of the national penitentiary said they are not part of any conspiracy of top drug and crime lords pooling a P1-billion bounty for the killing of Duterte and Dela Rosa.

“We, whose signatures appear below, firmly state that none of us are involved in such plan, if there is indeed any,” they stated in Filipino.

The inmates even expressed alarm and called for an investigation on the reported plot, citing its implications on their safety.

“We are worried that this could be a way of

‘public conditioning’ to silence us by corrupt officials and hide the corruption that happened inside the NBP in this outgoing administration,” read their letter sent through their lawyer Ferdinand Topacio.

The inmates, who were mostly convicted of illegal drugs and car theft, also called on Duterte to send a representative to the penitentiary to check on their situation as they reiterated their call to be returned to their previous detention facilities in the maximum and medium security compounds.

Some of them were among the 20 high-profile inmates earlier transferred to the National Bureau of Investigation main office for temporary detention following the crackdown on illegal activities and contraband in NBP.

Topacio also wrote a letter last June 17 urging Caparas to implement proper classification and segregation of inmates in the NBP and bring those in Building 14 back to their previous compounds.

“The said inmates wish to stress that they are neither crime lords nor drug lords but were merely labeled as such, or at times ‘high profile inmates’ unceremoniously by the previous leadership of this department… Such unjustified labeling, and consequently, detention in Building 14 is, thus, the proximate cause of their present predicament,” Topacio said. – With Alexis Romero, Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ed Amoroso, Mike Frialde, Romina Cabrera, Francis Elevado

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