Rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported the number of deaths related to the administration’s drug war increase amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carlos Conde, HRW – Asia Division researcher, said killings related to the government’s war on drugs increased by 50% from April to July 2020 compared to the previous four-month period.
The data was based on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) latest report that a total of 5,810 people died during the anti-illegal drug operations since President Rodrigo Duterte won the election in 2016.
“Human Rights Watch analyzed the government’s statistics and found 155 persons were killed in the past four months. Before the COVID-19 crisis, police killed 103 persons from December 2019 to March 2020,” Conde stated.
“The number of fatalities in these ostensible drug enforcement raids, in which the police routinely claimed that the victims fought back, jumped dramatically from the 26 deaths recorded by the PDEA in five months from July to November 2019,” he added.
Drug war deaths increase amid pandemic – HRW
Conde said the latest data only account for the killings of drug suspects during police anti-drug operations. Thousands were killed by unidentified suspects, many of whom were believed to be vigilantes or plainclothes cops working with local authorities, he noted.
The HRW researcher said the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights claimed that more than 8,600 individuals died in the government’s drug war while other human rights organizations believe there are more.
Conde also noted only one out of thousands of war on drugs cases has resulted in the conviction of police officers.
As a result, the Human Rights Council should again discuss the human rights issues related to the drug war in the Philippines when it convenes this month, Conde said.
“The government is expected to continue to deny the allegations rather than offer a constructive response. But as the government’s own statistics show, the atrocities in the ‘drug war’ have worsened, even as the country suffers the worst in the region from the pandemic,” Conde pointed out.