TWO suspected drug dealers died in a shootout with police in Bataan province Wednesday, bringing to 105 the number of suspects killed in a nationwide anti-drug campaign launched shortly before President Rodrigo Duterte came to power.
Sr. Supt Benjamin Silo Jr., identified the slain suspects as John Doe and Ali Abubacar, both described as a notorious drug pushers based in Quiapo, Manila, and operating in Bataan province.
A female identified as Bulawan Palao, 43, was also arrested in the aftermath of the operations.
The suspected ring leader, Warly Castillo, managed to elude arrest after the shootout.
Silo said the shootout followed a week-long surveillance of the group.
Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa is headed to Bataan province for a briefing on the ongoing operations against the illegal drug trade.
Data showed 29 drug suspects were killed from May 10 to June 15; 25 from June 16 to June 20; 18 from June 21 to June 26; and 31 from June 27 to July 3.
Of the killed, 43 were from the Calabarzon region; 31 from Central Luzon; eight in Central Visayas; six each in Regions 11 and 12; six in Metro Manila; two in Region 9; and one in Region 10.
The Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management of the PNP said 39 suspects were killed from Jan. 1 to May 9.
Some 5,845 drug suspects were arrested from May 10 to July 3, while 13,920 were arrested from Jan. 1 to May 9.
On Wednesday night, the body of a policeman suspected of being involved in the drug trade was found in Barangay Ubihan, Meycauayan City, Bulacan.
Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat Jr., acting Bulacan Police Provincial Office chief, identified the victim as PO3 Michael Lee Manalad, 34, formerly detailed with the Malolos City anti-illegal drugs unit. He was in uniform when found.
Residents of Barangay Ubihan said they heard two gunshots from where Manalad was found and upon checking, they found the policeman in a seated position leaning on a telephone pole with strangulation marks on his neck.
A piece of cardboard that hung from his neck said “Pulis na pusher wag tularan
” (Police pusher, do not follow his example).
Crime scene investigators found a medium-sized plastic sachet containing shabu wrapped in packing tape in the victim’s upper left pocket.
The PNP Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management said a total of 103 persons were killed due to drug-related incidents from May 10 to July 3.
Caramat said Manalad was member of the Bulacan Police Provincial Office assigned to the Malolos City Police Station.
He said Manalad was a native of Isabela, Basilan and a resident of Malolos City.
Also on Thursday, police said they arrested a former mayor of Bangued, Abra, Noel Catillo, after they found drugs in his house.
A report of regional CIDG chief Senior Supt. Froilan Perez said they also found three caliber .45 pistols, two caliber .22 revolvers, several magazines of ammunition and drug paraphernalia.
Meanwhile, military spokesman Col. Benjamin Hao reported that 13 people from the Army headquarters tested positive for drugs in a surprise drug test conducted Tuesday.
The 13 were in custody and are now under investigation, Hao said.
He said the drug test involved almost 3,000 personnel composed of officers and enlisted personnel as well as civilian employees.
“Using illegal drugs is enough evidence for automatic dishonorable discharge,” Hao said.
Based on Army records, Hao said, 204 people were discharged for using drugs in 2012, the year drug testing started.
“In 2013, we discharged 131 personnel and the following year, 2014, we had 38. In 2015, there were 30,” he said.
He said mandatory drug tests of ground units were ongoing.
Earlier, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo Visaya said he had suggested to President Rodrigo Duterte to form a presidential task force that would include the military in the fight against the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country. With Joel E. Zurbano, Mel Caspe