Government report card shows 16k deaths unresolved

MANILA — The government has admitted that more than 16,355 deaths, many of which it claims were mostly “homicides (sic) under investigation,” are still unresolved by the police as 2017 comes to a close—a number often criticized by administration critics as tantamount to “extrajudicial killings.” 

The figure was disclosed by Malacañang in a 63-page yearend report released on Tuesday, under the government’s #RealNumbers campaign—covering a period of July 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017.

The figure cited sources from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Customs, which is leading the administration’s “bloody” war against illegal drugs. 

Of the 79,193 anti-drug operations conducted since last year, the same fact sheet claimed only close to 3,967 drug personalities were killed in the administration’s drug war. 

Some 1.3-million drug addicts have surrendered to the government as of July 26, 2017; while authorities have arrested 118,287 individuals as of Nov. 27, 2017. 

The term ‘homicides under investigation’ was previously called as ‘deaths under investigation’—deaths in the bloody drug war which police officials could not explain because they were outside so-called “legitimate police operations.”

In a Senate hearing last August, PNP chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa used the term “deaths under investigation” for the first time to describe “the dead who were just found floating along canals, the dead who were dumped along roads with their hands tied and their faces, eyes, and mouths taped. Also those killed by riding-in-tandem, or those who were just shot.” 

The government continues to rule out the existence of extrajudicial killings in the country, citing in defense Administrative Order 35 issued in the previous administration, which defines it as “killings where the victim was a member of, or affiliated with an organization, to include political, environmental, labor, or similar causes; or an advocate of the said cause; or a media practitioner apparently mistaken or identified to be so.”

Also in the same report, the Palace said the government was able to recover P18.92 billion of seized illegal drugs,  including drug paraphernalia in 2017 as part of the government’s intensified efforts against illegal drugs. 

Palace Spokesman Harry Roque said the administration expected to hear ‘less complaints’ in the future, as they continue to learn from their experiences with the bloody drug campaign still up next year. 

“Of couirse, we will continue the anti-drug campaign, given our experiences…I’m sure we will learn from our past experiences,” Roque said in a mix of Filipino and English. 

“I think it’s human experience that we see or we should hear less complaints  because we know how to do it better,” he added. 

In the same report, data from the Department of Health revealed that 16,103 drug dependents were undergoing rehabilitation program from January to September 2017, while 2,236 individuals have completed the agency’s drug rehabilitation program.

Meanwhile, a total 14,406 drug surrenderers have received livelihood and skills training from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority as of September 2017.
A report from the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drug said that 93 percent of barangays nationwide have organized their Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council.

Last March 6, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order 15, which created the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs and National Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force to harness the entire bureaucracy to assist in the implementation of anti-illegal drugs campaign.

By Oct. 10, Duterte assigned PDEA  to be the lead agency in the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, after he removed the PNP from the drug war. 

But following what he claims “public clamor,” Duterte signed  Memorandum Order 17 last Dec. 5 for the PNP to return to the campaign. 

He also asked other agencies, such as  the National Bureau of Investigation, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Postal Corp. to resume in providing active support to the PDEA in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations. 

Meanwhile, the Dangerous Drugs Board  remains to be the policy-making and strategy-formulating body in the planning and formulation of policies and programs on drug prevention and control.