AT least 13 drug suspects were killed while 58 others were arrested in separate, simultaneous police operations in nine different areas in Bulacan province Friday.
The killing of the still unidentified drug suspects came just hours after newly designated Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Oscar Alabaylde assumed office.
Albayalde, in his first press briefing as PNP chief in Camp Crame vowed to sustain the drug war that his predecessor Ronald dela Rosa started.
“Whatever happens on the ground, sometimes, the police really have to react. You can’t tell them not to retaliate if there is a present and clear danger during their operations,” Albayalde said in a mix of English and Filipino.
A report from the Bulacan Police Provincial Office said it conducted 12 operations in which 13 drug suspects died.
The deaths were recorded in Bocaue, Pandi, Sta. Maria, Plaridel, Pulilan, Baliwag, San Rafael and Malolos City with one each and two in San Jose del Monte City.
Among those arrested was actor Julio Diaz, whose real name is Mariano de Leon. Police said he was arrested in a buy-bust operation when he tried to sell a sachet of shabu.
Police said they confiscated almost half a million pesos in drugs and 15 assorted weapons.
PNP spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao said that the 13 drug suspects who were killed put up a fight.
“The recent anti-illegal drugs operations in Bulacan, which resulted in the death of 13 suspects, is a clear indication that members of drug syndicates are fierce and are ready to put up a fight against law enforcers,” Bulalacao said.
The death toll was the highest in a single day since 32 drug suspects were killed in one night in August 2017—also in Bulacan.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to defend every policeman who kills a criminal while doing his or her duty in accordance with the requirements of the law.
The President made the announcement during the change of command rites of the Philippine National Police held in Camp Crame, Quezon City, where Dela Rosa turned over his post to Albayalde.
“I will be there for you. I will never, never allow any military man or police to go to jail unjustly for performing his duties,” Duterte said.
The Chief Executive asked the men and women of the PNP to continue performing their duties well, especially as the government further intensifies the war against criminality, illegal drugs, terrorism, and other threats to the security of the nation, the communities, homes and families.
Duterte said he is putting at stake his honor, life and the presidency, and said the fight against illegal drugs and organized crime will continue until his last day in office.
The President said the drug menace remained the country’s biggest problem.
“If we do not strive to put a stop to it, destroy and neutralize the infrastructure of drugs and the men and women behind it, we would have failed the nation,” he said.
In his speech, the President also lauded Dela Rosa, who was appointed as the new director of the Bureau of Corrections.
In his press confrence, Albayalde vowed there would be no let-up in the government’s war on drugs.
“How to sustain the drug war? In order to sustain it, we will not change anything,” Albayalde told reporters at his first press conference as PNP chief.
“Why would we stop a program that is very effective?” Albayalde added, citing “very good momentum and gains” since the alleged police killing last year of a teenage boy wrongly accused of drug crimes that sparked street protests.
Albayalde also said he would retain the counter-intelligence group that goes after crooked cops.
Albayalde’s comments came as the Philippines pushed back against a European Union Parliament resolution voted on Thursday that criticized the crackdown, the latest international condemnation of it.
The EU lawmakers called “on the government of the Philippines to put an immediate end to the extrajudicial killings in the pretext of a war on drugs.”
It also expressed “grave concern over credible reports to the effect that the Philippine police force is falsifying evidence to justify extrajudicial killings.”
While police say the campaign has killed around 4,100 people, rights groups allege the true toll is triple that number and amounts to state-sponsored murder.
Duterte began the crackdown in July 2016 after pledging during the presidential election campaign to kill 100,000 criminals to rid society of the scourge of narcotics.
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday denounced the EU parliamentary resolution as interference in Manila’s internal affairs, describing it as “biased” and “based on wrong information.”
Duterte last month pulled his country from the International Criminal Court after The Hague-based body’s chief prosecutor launched an initial examination into allegations lodged against the President over his drug war.
He also threatened to arrest the chief ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, if she tried to enter the Philippines to pursue her investigation.
On Sunday the Philippines deported EU politician Giacomo Filibeck, who has previously criticized Duterte’s crackdown, and on Monday briefly detained a 71-year-old Australian nun who has been critical of alleged human rights violations by government soldiers. – With AFP
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