Since the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte took office around 10 months ago, the nation’s war on drugs has led to almost 9,000 drug users and dealers (mostly small-time) killed. The campaign to purge the Philippines of illicit narcotics has continued, unrelenting.
Duarte’s campaign has slid in the approval ratings, however, with 78 percent of 1,200 people saying they were satisfied with the war on drugs campaign, down from 85 percent in a similar poll conducted in December 2016.
The recent poll, conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS), comes at a time when two senior law enforcement officials came forward, telling of how police received cash incentives for conducting executions of drug suspects. The officials also said evidence was planted on many suspects, and deaths blamed on vigilantes were mostly done by police.
Currently, the vigilante killing claim is yet to be independently verified by media outlets including AnonHQ.
The SWS survey also demonstrated a strong concern among Filipinos that they may become, or that someone they know may become a “victim of extrajudicial killing,” with 73 percent of the 1,200 surveyed expressing this worry.
One of the two whistleblower officers who took their claims to Reuters, is an active-duty police commander. The senior officer said most of the drug-war related killings were orchestrated. The other officer is a retired police intelligence officer.
Speaking with the request of anonymity to Reuters, the officers accused the government of propping up a cash-for-kill incentive for police, Reuters reports:
“It is the Philippine National Police doing it,” said the retired intelligence officer. “This killing machine must be buried six feet under the ground.” He said he was angry about the impact of the killings on police discipline and wanted “to put Duterte on the defensive.”
A 26-page document, unpublished, was authored by the intelligence officer and handed over to the Commission on Human Rights and the Philippines’ Catholic Church. The report, The State-Sponsored Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines, claims a $200 per head sum (10,000 pesos) is paid out to the police who kill anyone in the range of rapists, gang members, alcoholics and pickpockets – a far cry from drug suspects.
The report, based on current and former police officers accounts, including a commander, are concerned for the Philippines’ citizens.
“Why aren’t they killing the suppliers?” The commander asked in the Reuters interview. “Only the poor are dying.”
One highlight of the report is the act of the government using the drug war to fuel the act of “social cleansing.” Although Reuters has only published the cover page of the report until they can verify the vigilante claims, they do say the second part of the report is more political in its content, discussing Duterte’s ties to the Communist forces present in the Philippines.
Philippine Senator Sherwin Gatchalian responded to the Reuters report, saying the Philippine National Police (PNP) should be investigated, calling the PNP chief to “unmask the truth.
“The PNP leadership should look into these serious allegations made by two officers from within their ranks. While the charges lack documentary evidence, these cannot simply be swept under the rug with a blanket denial,” Senator Gatchalian said in a statement.
Dionardo Carlos, the spokesman for the PNP has asked for the two police officers claiming these cash-for-kill allegations to publicly come forward. “There’s no problem if they will tell the truth, backed up by evidence,” he said.
Carlos downplayed the allegation, saying it was unlikely. “First of all, that’s illegal, prohibited. Second, we are short on funds and nothing was allocated,” he told Reuters.
President Duterte still holds favor with the majority despite the violence witnessed during his war on drugs, and Amnesty International claims of “possible crimes against humanity.”
“How can that be when your war is only against drug lords, drug addicts, drug pushers? You consider them humanity? No. I believe not,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, Duterte’s ally said in February 2017.
Ramon Casiple from the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform in Manila explained why there was so much support for this war: “A lot of support for Duterte is just as much about rejecting what came before him as it is about the man and the policies.”
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