September 25, 2017, 1:43 am
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Intensified drugs war leaves 81 dead in 3 days

POLICE killed at least 28 people in yet another “one-time, big-time” anti-illegal drugs operation in Manila on Wednesday, a day after 32 suspected drug pushers and users were killed in Bulacan in an escalation of President Duterte’s war on drugs and crimes.

Counting the 21 killed last Monday also in Bulacan, the death toll has risen to 81, not counting scores killed in Quezon, Pasay, Pasig and other areas in Metro Manila. It is the deadliest period of drugs-focused crackdown that has left thousands of Filipinos dead since Duterte took office last year.

Manila Police District director Chief Supt. Joel Coronel said the operations, continuing as of Thursday, also led to the arrest of 166 others allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

It was not immediately clear what was the reason behind the stepped-up and coordinated operations this week although Duterte on Wednesday indicated the operations had his blessing.

Reacting to reports that 32 were killed in Bulacan on Tuesday, he said: “Let’s kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”

There were no reports of police casualties although the victims, police said, chose to put up a fight instead of surrendering.

“The President did not instruct me to kill and kill,” PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa told reporters. “I also don’t have any instructions to my men to kill and kill. But the instruction coming from the President is very clear that our war on drugs is unrelenting. Those who were killed fought back.”

Yesterday, Duterte said he would not just pardon police officers who killed drug offenders during the anti-narcotics campaign but also promote them, comments that Chito Gascon, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, said emboldened police “to do their worst.”

“The police are essentially free to do what they will because they are almost guaranteed that they will not be investigated or charged,” Gascon said.

Deputy Director General Ramon Apolinario, the PNP deputy chief for administration, said illegal drugs and other forms of crime are not exclusive to Bulacan and Manila, adding the intensified drive will also be held in other areas.

“Yes, we can expect more of this nationwide because we have similar problems in other areas of Metro Manila, in Regions 1, 2, 3, and 4, in the Visayas and Mindanao, that’s why our men have to double their efforts,” Apolinario said after the inauguration of the newly-renovated Quezon City Police District Station 7-Cubao in Camp Panopio, Quezon City.

Supt. Edwin Mergarejo, MPD spokesman, said nine of their 11 police stations conducted operations Wednesday. He said they are open to investigations by any probe body, insisting the operations were all recorded and legitimate.

“We are open to any investigation. We also urge concerned parties to file the appropriate charges against us if they feel there are irregularities in the operations,” Mergarejo said.

He also denied that the MPD conducted the operations to equal or surpass the achievements of the Bulacan police.

Coronel briefed Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada yesterday afternoon concerning the operations that started Wednesday night and carried out in Sta. Cruz, Sampaloc, Malate, Tondo, and Abad Santos Avenue, among others.

“Most of the suspects neutralized or arrested were involved in robbery holdups, murder and frustrated murder, the rest in drug trafficking,” he said, adding most of the killings were carried out by cops detailed with police stations in Central Market, Moriones-Tondo, Malate, Sampaloc, Pandacan, and Ermita.

The Moriones Police Station made the most arrests with 24, followed by the Sampaloc Station with 23.

“So far, for today, this is our biggest law enforcement operation, the biggest number of suspects neutralized in a single day,” Coronel said.

Duterte yesterday renewed his offer of a P2 million bounty for any cop involved in the illegal drugs trade in the country during a talk with members of the police force in Ozamiz City.

“My message was really very simple: Huwag kayong pumasok sa droga because it will destroy my country (My message was really very simple: do not engage in illegal drugs because it will destroy my country),” he said.

“That’s why here, I am ordering the PNP Chief, (Gen.) Bato (Dela Rosa) is here, to order somebody there in Crame to prepare a list. Those police involved (in) illegal drugs, I will pay P2 million for your head. No questions asked. I won’t ask who killed you. Que se joda. I want you there down dead,” he added. – With Jocelyn Montemayor and JP Lopez.
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