PDEA defends drug war deaths

Rhodina Villanueva, Emmanuel Tupas - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government’s chief anti-narcotics officer yesterday defended the deaths in law enforcement operations arising from President Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, saying the suspects who were killed have only themselves to blame for their fate.

The latest data from the government Real NumbersPh platform showed that 6,248 drug suspects have been killed in alleged shootouts during Duterte’s six-year term.

For Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) chief Wilkins Villanueva, these deaths could have been avoided had the suspects opted to surrender peacefully.

“These losses of lives were results of violent actions of drug pushers toward law enforcers during lawful arrests,” he said in his speech during the Duterte Legacy Summit.

Critics have accused the Duterte administration of committing human rights abuses in its crackdown on illegal drugs.

Stressing his point, Villanueva said 11 PDEA agents were killed and 34 others were injured in shootouts with drug suspects in the past six years.

He also pointed out the death toll is small compared to at least 341,494 drug suspects who were arrested since 2016.

Villanueva also has a message to Duterte’s critics who continue to insist that the drug war is a failure.

“You may have articulated your opinions based on what you see or hear in the news and not on actual experiences,” he said.

Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said yesterday the Duterte administration has “encouraged a culture of impunity” that is “highlighted by the lack of effective, prompt and transparent accountability mechanisms to address the drug-related killings.”

She cited a Commission on Human Rights report, completed in April, stating that the government has failed to protect victims of drug-related killings.

Palabay said that these findings should push the International Criminal Court and other international mechanisms to continue their investigations.



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