By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan, PNA
MANILA — The Philippine National Police (PNP) is casting doubts on the accuracy of studies made by the Ateneo Policy Center, which alleges that over 7,000 people have died in government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
PNP spokesperson, Col. Bernard Banac said that while he respects the results of studies made by the academe, it is, however, inaccurate.
“It is totally erroneous to record more than 7,000 homicide deaths, with all sorts of possible motives including family feuds, quarrels, land disputes, accidents, stray bullets, road rage, etc., directly as drug-related incidents,” Banac said when sought for a comment.
Banac noted that according to government’s records, the “Real Number PH,” the drug war has only produced 5,281 fatalities from the time it was launched in July 2016 until February 28, 2019.
The PNP spokesperson also said that it is normal for policemen to be accused of human rights violations amid the conduct of anti-drug operations, which sometimes result in the killing of drug suspects.
“But as an institution, let this be known to all, that we adhere to the rule of law, respect human rights and value life. Like any organization, we are not perfect. But this has not deterred us from intensifying internal cleansing to maintain discipline among our personnel and weed out from our ranks rogues, misfits, and scalawags,” Banac explained.
He said since 2016, a total of 8,440 personnel have already been disciplined for various offenses and illegal acts. Out of this number, he said 4,500 were suspended and 2,600 were dismissed from the service.
Of those dismissed, 322 were found positive for use of illegal drugs and 119 either for coddling, protecting drug suspects or not attending court duties.
“Despite this, we assure the public that the PNP remains committed to performing its mandate to enforce the law, dismantle drug syndicates, and assist the rehabilitation of drug users with transparency, and utmost respect for human rights,” Banac said.
“But as a dynamic organization, the PNP will always remain open to listening, and understand ways how to best serve our people. In fact, we have already introduced improvements in our law enforcement operations, such as the use of body cameras; the shift to reduction of drug supply by going after high-value targets and big drug syndicates; the emphasis on adherence to rule of law and respect for human rights; and, the intensified PNP internal cleansing,” he stressed.
The Ateneo Policy Center has recorded a total of 7,029 drug-related deaths from May 2016 until December 2018.
It said the killing was most rampant in the National Capital Region with 2,475 reported deaths. Among the provinces, Bulacan has recorded the most number of killings with 937 followed by Cebu with 542.
Of the figure, 4,512 people were killed after allegedly trying to fight it out with police during the conduct of anti-drug operations, 2,469 were killed by other assailants and the rest were bodies discovered or found. (PNA)