Drug deaths near 3,000

Jaime Laude - The Philippine Star

1,466 killed in police operations

MANILA, Philippines - The bodies keep piling up. As the Philippine National Police (PNP) continues its anti-narcotics crackdown, the number of drug offenders killed has reached nearly 3,000.

The PNP reported yesterday that 1,466 suspected drug offenders were killed in the government’s “Double Barrel” drive against illegal drugs since President Duterte assumed office on June 30.

Another 1,490 were killed by suspected vigilante groups, which the PNP classified under “deaths under investigation.”

“The number of (police) operations conducted since the launching of Oplan Double Barrel has already reached 17,389, resulting in the deaths of 1,466 drug personalities and the arrest of 16,025 drug suspects,” PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos said.

Carlos stressed most, if not all, of those killed fought it out with the police.

Carlos added the PNP’s Oplan Tokhang resulted in the surrender of 52,568 self-confessed drug peddlers and 659,959 drug users.

The figures do not include the “deaths under investigation” from July 1 to Sept. 8 that have reached 1,490, out of 1,782 incidents involving 1,935 victims.

Of these drug-related incidents, the PNP arrested 185 suspects with 292 cases filed in courts against those involved in summary executions. 107 of them are still at large.

Duterte, a former prosecutor and mayor of Davao City where he built a reputation for tough anti-crime methods, won the presidential election earlier this year on a promise to end criminality and corruption in the first three to six months of his presidency.

He encouraged police and even ordinary citizens to shoot suspected drug dealers if they resist arrest, and promised cash rewards if they turn in drug lords.

The rising body count has shocked the world and sparked alarm among global human rights groups, fearing the total could be far higher as vigilantes have joined the spree.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Isidro Lapeña said concerned citizens are the primary source of information in their operations against illegal drugs.

Lapeña said President Duterte issued the marching orders to stop the drug problem by all means that the law allows.

He said the fight will be relentless and will be sustained to meet the target of six months. – With Eva Visperas

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