Philippine police figures show grim number of drug war deaths nearing 8,000
Policemen stand guard near the body of a man killed during what police said was a drug-related vigilante killing in Barangay Manggahan in Pasig City early yesterday.
The STAR/Joven Cagande

Philippine police figures show grim number of drug war deaths nearing 8,000

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) - November 4, 2020 - 4:50pm

MANILA, Philippines — The death toll from anti-drug operations by the country's police force has climbed to 7,987 by end-October with over a hundred killed in just two months, figures from its chief Police Gen. Camilo Cascolan showed on Wednesday. 

In his 60-day accomplishment report, Cascolan said a total of 234,036 operations were conducted by the police from July 2016 to October of this year that had resulted in the said number of fatalities. 

From September to October alone, police had run some 9,240 anti-drug ops, resulting in a number of 119 deaths. Human rights groups, however, have since disputed government figures and said the actual number may be closer to 30,000.

Overall, 357,069 persons have been arrested four years since President Rodrigo Duterte waged his war on drugs, up by 12,439 in the last two months.

Duterte's promise of a drug-free nation is central to his campaign platform when he ran for the country's highest post from being then a mayor of Davao City.

His solution to a supposedly medical issue of drug addiction has earned criticism from the international community, as well as charges of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court. 

Carlos Conde of the Human Rights Watch in a statement to Philstar.com condemned the latest statistics from PNP, hitting government for the continuing number of deaths.

"Even with Duterte's promise to the UN Human Rights Council last month to improve the human rights situation in the country, the situation on the ground remains as dire and as deadly as ever," he said. "The 119 deaths in September and October [r]eported today means at least two Filipinos are killed every day by the police during drug war operations."

The international rights watchdog over the past months also reported that drug killings in the Philippines have continued amid the lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

RELATEDDespite police claims, drug war killings continue amid COVID-19 lockdown — int'l rights monitor

This was despite an earlier pronouncement by Police Maj. Gen. Debold Sinas, Metro Manila's police chief, that the controversial "Oplan Tokhang" would be suspended for authorities to focus more on implementing the COVID-19 quarantine. 

Difference in numbers

PNP's numbers are different from the government's figures managed by the country's drug enforcement agency. 

In September, the Real Numbers PH campaign showed 5,856 drug war deaths since the campaign began 2016. This leaves a 2,012-difference from the two organization's data, with the PNP recording 7,868 deaths from the said period of time. 

Police operations from September to October have also yielded 217 surrenderees, with figures on individuals turning themselves in to authorities now at 1,290,768. 

Duterte had since vowed to that his bloody drug war will remain relentless in his last two years in office. But he has also remarked recently that he could be held liable for deaths committed by state agents. 

“If there are deaths, I said... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war," the president said in an October public address. 

He has, however, rejected taking the blame for deaths conducted by unidentified individuals such as vigilante groups, despite a report by Amnesty International in May detailing paid killers' role in helping state forces carry out his drug war.

Cleaning its own ranks

Cascolan, who retires this November upon reaching the mandatory age retirement of 56, reported too that 4,681 of PNP personnel had been dismissed from service in a bid to "rid its ranks of scalawags."

Some 870 have since been demoted, 851 suspended, and 518 involved or tested positive for the use of illegal drugs. 

COVER STORY PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE PRESIDENT RODRIGO DUTERTE
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