Yearender: War on drugs death toll higher in 2018 compared to last year

ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group

Posted at Dec 27 2018 05:27 PM

MANILA - An independent monitoring by the ABS-CBN Investigative & Research Group of news reports and releases by police regional offices and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency showed that 5,317 alleged drug suspects were killed since the administration's anti-illegal drugs campaign began on July 1, 2016 up until December 18, 2018.

The data showed 6 out of every 10 victims were killed in operations conducted by law-enforcement agencies, including police and PDEA operatives, during the period. Data also showed that 35% or 1,863 of the victims were killed in Metro Manila.

2018 vs 2017

The number of fatalities reported as a result of anti-narcotics operations by the government was higher this year compared to 2017. 

From January 1 to December 18, 2018, there were 1,021 drug-related fatalities, which is 11% higher than the 916 people killed during anti-illegal drugs operations in 2017. (See Figure 1)

Yearender: War on drugs death toll higher in 2018 compared to last year 1

The lower figures reported in 2017 may be attributed to the sharp decline in fatalities between January and February 2017, when the anti-illegal drugs operations were suspended due to the alleged involvement of the police in the killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo. 

It began to climb in the months after the resumption of operations in March 2017, and peaked to 177 fatalities in August 2017, when the Bulacan police conducted a simultaneous "one time, big time" operations that resulted in over 30 fatalities. 

Following the death of teenager Kian delos Santos in August 2017, and the series of Senate hearings that ensued, the drug-related fatalities again declined. (See Figure 2)

Yearender: War on drugs death toll higher in 2018 compared to last year 2

In 2018, a big majority or 82% of drug-related deaths from anti-illegal drugs operations occurred in the regions, while only 18% occurred in Metro Manila. 

The three provinces with the most fatalities from anti-illegal drug operations in 2018 are Bulacan with 240 deaths, Laguna with 104, and Quezon City with 73. 

Deaths highest in first 3 months of the war on drugs

A third of the 3,391 fatalities monitored by ABS-CBN occurred in the first three months of the administration’s war on drugs, or from July-September 2016.

Since then, Bulacan has had the most drug-related fatalities among all provinces and all Metro Manila cities with 847 deaths. (See Table 1)

Yearender: War on drugs death toll higher in 2018 compared to last year 3

ABS-CBN News classified the drug-related deaths into three categories according to the way that the alleged drug suspect was killed. (See Table 2)

  1. Killed during operations by law-enforcement agencies, including anti-illegal drug operations, entrapment operations, raids, and follow-up operations of the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. 
  2. Killed by unidentified assailants in shooting incidents either witnessed by other people or capture on CCTV. 
  3. Bodies dumped in public places, which include victims whose bodies were found with labels tagging them as “drug pusher,” “drug user” or “drug addict.” The victim’s face is usually wrapped in tape while the hands and legs are tied. Some also bear gunshot wounds and stab wounds on the face and body.
Yearender: War on drugs death toll higher in 2018 compared to last year 4

Meanwhile, #RealNumbersPH showed that 5,050 “drug personalities” were killed in anti-drugs operations conducted from July 1, 2016 to November 30, 2018. 

First released in May 2017, #RealNumbersPH contains data on the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign from the PDEA, PNP, the National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Customs, Department of Justice, and Dangerous Drugs Board.