PNP chief clarifies deaths in drug war shootouts
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde yesterday clarified that the number of deaths in alleged shootouts in anti-drug operations does not represent the entire picture of the government’s war on illegal drugs.
In response to a statement of Amnesty International (AI) that has expressed alarm over the killings of drug suspects in the country, Albayalde said the latest death toll represents just 2.6 percent of suspected drug pushers and users accounted for in police operations.
According to Albayalde, at least 6,600 drug suspects were killed in alleged shootouts with policemen, compared to the 240,565 drug personalities arrested since President Duterte launched his crackdown on illegal drugs in July 2016.
“These are merely 2.6 percent, it is not even three percent compared to those arrested,” he told reporters at the Northern Mindanao police headquarters in Cagayan de Oro City.
He said the figure belies the claims of human rights groups and other critics that there are always killings in police operations.
Albayalde earlier said AI is politicizing the government’s anti-drug campaign, looking for loopholes to portray the Duterte administration in a negative manner.
While they don’t want casualties, Albayalde said policemen have no other option but to fight back if their lives are put in danger when drug suspects resist arrest.
“If they resist arrest, then we have to fight back,” he said in Filipino.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said yesterday that illegal drugs cannot be legalized in the Philippines since the country has so many islands and very near the drug routes of shabu producers from China.
Locsin was reacting to a netizen’s tweet about legalizing drugs.
“I said in UN (United Nations) that if my country was the size of a sardine can like Portugal facing the anodyne Atlantic, we’d legalize but we are a huge archipelago w 110M people within spitting distance of China’s massive meth production and in the drug route,” Locsin said on Twitter.
UN human rights experts have called on the United Nations to establish an independent investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines, citing a sharp deterioration in the situation across the country, including sustained attacks on people and institutions defending human rights.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said President Duterte’s war on drugs is not a model for any country.
The UN rapporteurs have recorded a staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders. – With Pia Lee-Brago