Philippine drug war deaths pile up as Duterte admits losing control
- Some 1,600 people have been killed in the past six months in the nation’s war on drugs, bringing the official death count to more than 6,600
- The latest figures prompted campaigners to demand a full investigation into the crackdown by Duterte, who last week appeared to have admitted he was losing control of the situation
The latest figures from the Philippine National Police brings the official death count to more than 6,600.
It immediately prompted campaigners to demand a full investigation into Duterte’s crackdown, which human rights groups claim may be responsible for as many as 30,000 deaths when vigilante deaths are included.
The last set of data provided by authorities came in December last year, when the fatality count had just passed 5,000 deaths. National Police spokesman Colonel Bernard Banac said “at least” 1,600 further deaths had occurred between January and May this year, and that most of these targets had been resisting arrest.
“The increase was due to suspects putting up armed resistance to operatives,” Banac said when asked what was behind an apparent uptick in the rate of deaths.
He said 49 police officers had died during that time, while 144 had been injured during legitimate operations nationwide.
He also said that police investigations did not end when suspects were killed: “It does not mean that just because they died in police operations, we will not investigate it.
“As much as possible, no one should die in our anti-drug operations,” he added.
Banac cautioned that the latest figures had not been cross-checked with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for urgent scrutiny of the drug war killings.