Joint Task Force COVID Shield chief Police Lieutenant General Guillermo Eleazar questioned Friday the basis of Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) claim that drug war killings increased by almost 50% COVID-19 pandemic.
Eleazar said in a television interview that based on the Philippine National Police’s records, the drug war killings increase was only 4.74%.
“When it (HRW report) was presented sa media at nakita ko na 50%, parang nagtataka rin ako. Pero when our director for operations presented this (PNP report) a day or two after that, iyon ang nakita ko, 5% or 4.74% ang tinaas nitong died in police operations,” he told ANC.
“So napakaiba, masyadong malayo,” he added.
Carlos Conde, HRW – Asia Division researcher, earlier 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 drug war killings data was based on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) latest report that 5,810 people died during the anti-illegal drug operations since President Rodrigo Duterte won the election in 2016, Conde explained.
“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.
Drug war killings amid pandemic
“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.
Eleazar also boasted in the interview that the government’s anti-drug campaigns have been successful during the pandemic.
“With regard to accomplishment, mas marami tayo ngayong naging accomplishment, billions of pesos worth of shabu na na-confiscate,” he said, adding that several “big fish” were also caught.
However, when asked to give a name of an arrested “big fish,” Eleazar said, “I don’t know about the names, but the point is these are the ones who are involved in transacting billions of pesos worth [of illegal drugs], the biggest haul is more than 800 kilograms [of illegal drugs] in Bulacan na nahuli natin, at yung Chinese personalities na hindi ko alam ang pangalan.”
“These are all big fish, with 800 kilograms in their possession in that particular operation,” he added.