On the heels of a damaging Justice Department report that cast doubt that police truly acted in self-defense when they killed drug suspects in 52 operations, now come more disturbing revelations that the authorities recommended rewards for officers involved in “shootouts.”
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) this week said police reports on drug raids in which the suspect was killed sought to reward the cops involved and absolve them from liability.
The CHR came to this conclusion after analyzing 579 killings and incidents of violence documented since the Duterte administration’s war on drugs began in 2016 up until February 2020.
The CHR said 77 out of 90 police reports made recommendations that the officers involved in the killings be “awarded, rewarded or recognized.”
Some reports upheld the legitimacy of the operations, and a few “recommended that participating operatives be absolved from criminal or administrative liability.”
Moreover, the CHR found that only 2.36 percent of 466 drug suspects who police claimed resisted arrest in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon and Calabarzon, survived.
Out of all incidents analyzed, 451 were police operations that targeted 705 people. At least 538—or 76 percent–of them were killed.
Records of at least 87 victims contained information on the wounds or injuries found—mostly multiple gunshot wounds on different parts of the body, usually the head, chest, trunk and abdomen. Blunt force and injury and lacerations were also found on some of the victims
Of the 870 people recorded as victims, at least 71 were women and at least 24 were minors.
The CHR said it could have done a more exhaustive report but was systematically denied access to police records.
Facing an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the President—who initiated the bloody war on drugs and served as its biggest cheerleader—is singularly unrepentant, saying he is ready to go to jail for the drug killings if a Filipino court finds him guilty. His surrogate candidate for president next year, Senator Ronald dela Rosa, oversaw the bloody campaign, admitted he is “a little” worried about the ICC probe, but says he is ready to face any investigation.
In 2016, he told the BBC the anti-drug campaign was not “perfect,” but said he was proud of his record.
“I can say we attacked the problem head-on,” he said at the time. “We did not shy away from the problem.”
He also dismissed as hyperbole the suggestion that the President had ordered cops to kill indiscriminately—despite what Mr. Duterte said in 2016: “If [drug suspects’ pull out a gun, kill them. If they don’t, kill them still, son of a whore, so it’s over, lest you lose your gun. I’ll take care of you.”
This, then, is the dark and bloody legacy of the President and his surrogate candidate, and now the chickens have come home to roost.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s violent war on drugs has led to 6,201 deaths in police anti-drug operations alone as of Sept. 30, according to official government data. This count does not include victims of vigilante-style killings, which human rights groups estimate could reach 27,000 to 30,000.
How many of these, we must ask, were big-time drug distributors, and how many were just impoverished, small-time peddlers, addicts, or worse, innocent bystanders?
As the elections draw near, we need to ask ourselves if this is the kind of society we are—one that seeks but ultimately fails to solve a social disease with indiscriminate killing. Do we really want national and local leaders who will continue this legacy and lead us down this blood-soaked path yet again? Surely, we are better than this.