In this Dec. 18, 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte salutes to a wounded police officer during the the awarding of the Order of Lapu-Lapu to the personnel of Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology at Camp Brigadier General Rafael Crame in Quezon City, Philippines. PPD/Karl Norman Alonzo

Amid rights outcry, Palace insists on drug war accomplishments in yearend report
(Philstar.com) - December 26, 2017 - 9:33am

MANILA, Philippines — In its 2017 yearend report, the Malacañang hailed its accomplishments in its controversial fight against illegal drugs and criminality—a campaign that has drawn strong criticism from human rights groups all over the world.

President Rodrigo Duterte won over 16 million votes on a promise to ruthlessly rid the country of drugs and criminality in six months—a deadline he has imposed and has moved, since taking the helm of the country.

The president, however, disappointed and asked for a longer deadline, insisting he was not aware of the gravity of the drug problem. This, in turn, led to more questionable deaths linked to the war on drugs.

Among the highlights of the released accomplishment reports is the data on its commitment to "eliminate illegal drugs, criminality and corruption in the government."

"This year-end report highlights the key accomplishments of [Duterte] and his administration to give the Filipino people a safe, secure and comfortable environment through his key platforms of providing law and order, lasting peace, and prosperity for all," the report read.

War against drugs

According to the 63-page report released Tuesday, there are 1,308,078 people who surrendered to authorities from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 27, 2017. In the 79,193 anti-drug operations conducted for the same period, 118,287 personalities suspected to have links with drugs surrendered.

Data used in its latest "Real Numbers" report came from the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and Bureau of Customs. The project has been noted as a source for fuzzy and flawed numbers that appear to gloss over human rights abuses.

Malacañang said illegal substances worth P18,92 billion were seized by government operatives over the past years.

A total of 4,747 barangays, meanwhile, have been declared "drug-free" as of Nov. 27, 2017.

There are, however, 3,967 "drug personalities" who died in anti-drug operations.

A prevailing narrative in anti-drug operations is the "nanlaban" claim of the police operatives, wherein suspects killed allegedly fought back and resisted arrest. Critics, however, decry extrajudicial killings in the process as they point out that those killed in the drug war have yet to face a court to try allegations against them.

The Department of Health said there are 16,103 drug dependents that are currently enrolled under the agency's drug rehabilitation program as of September 2017.

The report claims that a total of 2,236 drug dependents have finished the program, and 14,046 of those who surrendered to the government have received livelihood and skills training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

READ: 'Real numbers' contradict new Duterte claim on police casualties

War against crime

The tough-talking former mayor of Davao City also vowed to eliminate crime in the country. The Philippine National Police claimed there has been 8,44-percent decrease in total crime volume nationwide.

Still, the number of homicides possibly linked to the drug war being investigated climbed to 16,355.

Data from the PNP also showed that there has been a 20.56-percent decrease in index crime.

Robbery incidents also have gone down by 23.61 percent as there are 13,968 reported incidents from January to October 2017, compared to the 18,259 reported cases from January to October 2016.

Abuse in the PNP

The PNP also continues to clean up its own ranks, following Duterte's orders.

The report noted that a total of 426 policemen were stripped of their uniforms.

In this Dec. 8, 2016 photo, bystanders and a policeman look at the body of a woman, later identified by her husband as that of Nora Acielo, still clutching the school bag of her child, are reflected in a pool of water after she was shot by still unidentified men while walking with her two children to school at a poor neighborhood in Manila, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez, file

Last month, two cops were dismissed due to their alleged involvement in the killing of 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz, one of the many teenager casualties in the drug war.

Police Chief Superintendent Edgardo Tinio and police director Joel Pagdilao were also dismissed from service on Oct. 5, 2017 due to drug-related charges.

Tinio and Pagdilao are among the five "narco-generals" identified by Duterte in a speech before the personnel of the Philippine Air Force July last year.

The report also noted that the National Capital Region Police Office relieved 1,000 police personnel from the Caloocan City Police Station and ordered to undergo retraining and reorientation at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

The Caloocan City police station hugged headlines in 2017 due to reported case of a private residence raided by the cops without a search warrant.

Several members of the Caloocan police are also named as respondents in the slay case of Arnaiz, Reynaldo "Kulot" De Guzman and Kian delos Santos.

A week before the sacking was ordered by Director Oscar Albayalde, NCRPO Chief, the Caloocan City Police Station was recognized as the Best City Police Station in the NCR.

Duterte's drug war is currently facing a petition seeking its unconstitutionality before the Supreme Court. The high court held a three-day deliberation, via oral argument, on the case. 

The government, represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, was ordered by the high court to submit a memorandum and yield its voluminous records on investigation into the drug-related deaths.

RELATED: Highlights from the Supreme Court oral arguments on the drug war

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