'Maganda 'yun': President praises bloody Bulacan raids

'Maganda 'yun': President praises bloody Bulacan raids

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. File photo

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 7:30 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday praised a series of anti-drug operations in Bulacan province that have resulted in the deaths of at least 32 drug suspects.

Duterte said authorities should kill more drug pushers to reduce the problems plaguing the country.

"Yung namatay daw sa Bulacan kanina, 32 (Thirty two people died in Bulacan) in a massive raid. Maganda yun (That’s good),” the president said during the 19th anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption in Malacañang.

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

Duterte said he is expecting human rights advocates to criticize the law enforcement operations.

“There will be outcry again over the 32 (people) who were killed in the joint operations. They would grieve again for justice," the president said.

“Many are being killed because the policemen are working. They are protected under my watch,” he added.

Duterte said he has ordered security forces to destroy the apparatus of the drug trade, which he said is “taking a toll on the lives of the people.”

“My order is to destroy the apparatus. Kung napatay ka, pasensya ka (If you get killed, sorry),” the president said.

“We will finish this for the next generation,” he added.

The president said, however, that despite the determined drive against illegal drugs, it is not a problem that his administration can solve in a six-year term.

"Ako nga na nag-uutos ng patayan, di ko kaya, kayo pa. Wag na tayo mag-drama dito you'll be far worse than what we have now," he said, repeating the argument that not even the US, where many states have decriminalized marijuana, can do it.

Duterte has, in the past, made statements that his spokespersons and subordinates have had to walk back or "clarify" as jokes, hyperbole or expressions of frustration.

Bulacan operations

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.”

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 in a press briefing at Camp Crame in Quezon City.

“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.

Deaths in drug operations

According to the latest "RealNumbersPH" release of government data, 3,451 so-called drug personalities have been killed in law enforcement operations as of July 26.

The government launched the campaign to counter claims by government critics and human rights organizations in May that between 7,000 and 9,000 people had been killed in the anti-drug campaign.

According to a June 30 release, only 2,098 of 12,833 recorded since the war on drugs began were considered "drug-related". Another 8,200 were classified as homicides under investigation, where motives had yet to be determined.

Duterte has vowed to continue the campaign against illegal drugs, a problem that he said has contaminated about four million people, and estimate that contradicts that of the Dangerous Drugs Board, which pegs the number at around 1.8 million based on its latest drug use survey.

Duterte has also encouraged police officers to shoot drug lords and pushers if they feel that their lives are in danger, a statement that critics viewed as an encouragement to conduct summary killings.

Duterte has denied endorsing extrajudicial killings but has vowed to kill drug pushers who destroy the Filipino youth. — with reports by Alexis Romero

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