FROM July 1, 2016 to October 10, 2017, the Philippine National Police (PNP) carried out 71,578 anti-drug operations, in which 112,086 suspects were arrested and 3,933 were killed, and 1,262,188 surrendered, it was reported by Director Camilo Cascolan of the PNP Directorate for Operations. On the PNP side, 83 police officers were killed and 238 were wounded.
Confiscated in the raids were 1,703,300 grams of shabu, 3,812,516 grams of marijuana, and 2,650 grams of ecstasy. Also seized were 7,280 firearms and 483 explosive devices. Drug laboratories were raided and shut down in Pampanga, Isabela, Catanduanes, and Valenzuela City in Metro Manila.
The PNP directorate’s report went on to say that 49,994 of those who surrendered were minors, that 1,172,579 were males and 87,194 females, 648,335 were unemployed, 260,113 were self-employed, 46,443 were students, and 293,797 were workers in private entities.
These are the latest statistics from the PNP on the anti-dugs campaign. We welcome them in the light of so many conflicting figures from various sources. One article in a journal last October said the anti-drugs drive had claimed the lives of as many as 9,000 suspected drug dealers and users. Another report claimed the “latest unofficial count placed extrajudicial killings and other human rights incidents at 14,000.”
These are the reports that caused the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to speak up and call for an investigation. Last October, the PNP claimed there was not one extra-judicial killing (EJK) in the anti-drugs campaign. The PNP cited an old administrative order of former President Benigno S. Aquino III defining an EJK as a killing of one agitating for a political cause; it thus ruled that a killing in the anti-drugs drive did not qualify as an EJK. The PNP has also claimed that those killed had fought back – “nanlaban” – when the police sought to arrest them.
In a recent radio interview, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said that about 800 of the over 10,000 killings in police operations were not related to drugs. Some put markings on the body to make it appear they were drug pushers, but in some cases, the PNP found the victim was not involved in drugs, he said.
With 800 killings non-related to drugs, according to the PNP chief, that leaves over 9,000 which are. The PNP must keep up its investigation, so that in succeeding reports, it will be able to pinpoint responsibility for all the killings.
In the meantime, the anti-drugs drive must go on, led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency with the active support and participation of the PNP, the National Bureau of Investigation, and other law-enforcement agencies.
Perhaps emphasis should now shift from the demand or distribution side of drug operations, the drug users and pushers, to the supply side, the importers of billions of pesos worth of shabu who manage to smuggle it through the country’s porous borders or slip it right through ports with compliant customs and other port officials.