MANILA, Philippines – Human rights group Karapatan on Sunday, February 11, questioned President Duterte’s drug war, as police earlier claimed it had been “bloodless” despite reports of people killed since its comeback.
Karapatan, in a statement, said that there have been 53 drug offenders slain over the past two months since Philippine National Police (PNP) resumed its crackdown against illegal drugs in December last year.
And the killings were signs of a “desperate attempt” to “redeem their reputation from the muck,” the group said.
This was because PNP earlier claimed that their Oplan Tokhang (Knock and Plead) had been “bloodless.”
On February 9, PNP Deputy Spokesperson Supt. Vimilee Madrid said 53 suspected drug personalities were killed out of the 6,523 drug personalities they arrested nationwide from December 5, 2017 to February 8 this year.
“Straight from the horse’s mouth, the Philippine National Police admitted that since the resumed involvement of police forces in drug war operations, the death toll has again started to rise,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.
“Though the PNP did try to backpedal with another pronouncement stating that since the relaunch of Oplan Tokhang, the campaign has been ‘bloodless’, the inconsistency in both statements are typical follies of a discredited institution which desperately tries to salvage its unredeemable reputation from the muck,” she added.
Madrid reasoned out that those killed “most probably” resisted arrest after a confrontation with operatives.
“Madrid and the PNP want to impress that the relaunch of Oplan Tokhang is a success, especially after superficial make-overs. The reality on the ground, supported by Madrid’s own words, is that the involvement of the PNP remains a primary factor in why this ‘war’ outrightly violates human rights – because its implementers and proponents are among the top human rights violators in the country,” said Palabay.
Karapatan has consistently questioned the effectivity of the said campaign in eliminating the use and sale of illegal drugs in the country.
For Palabay, this became more evident when Duterte himself made a pronouncement that his earlier ultimatum of ending the drug trade in the country was a “nightmare” and a “fiasco,” reasoning that he was yet to grasp the magnitude of the problem.
“Duterte’s war on drugs is a futile militarist solution to the problems of criminality and the illicit drugs trade. It does not address the socioeconomic causes of why poor communities turn to selling narcotics for petty cash,” Palabay said.
Government news site Philippine Information Agency’s Real Numbers said 3,987 drug personalities were killed and over 119,000 arrested in PNP’s 81,919 operations nationwide from July 1, 2016 to January 17, 2018.
Their data also showed there were 2,235 other drug-related killings during the same period, which human rights groups suspected to have been carried out by vigilantes.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) had assumed leadership of anti-drug operations following criticisms of extrajudicial killings in the conduct of the campaign. (davaotoday.com)