Cover-up try suspected in intensified crackdown
MANILA - Militant group Bayan on Sunday insisted that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte should not be blamed for the recent surge in the number of suspected drug personalities killed in police operations.
Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes told radio dzMM, "Masyado sigurong premature na isisi iyung mga nagaganap na pagpatay doon sa hindi pa naman nauupong gobyernong Duterte."
Reyes said the intensified crackdown against drug peddlers may have been launched in a bid to stop targets from ratting on government officials, especially lawmen, who act as "padrinos" or protectors of drug rings.
Duterte himself has said at least three police generals have alleged links to drug syndicates.
"Baka nga kaya ho kaya dumarami 'yung mga napapatay -- lalo na 'yung mga sa mababang levels lang 'yung pinapatay -- pagtakpan 'yung mga pwedeng mabuking 'pag pumasok na 'yung Duterte administration," he said.
"Mukhang ang intensyon nga, posible, ay pagtakpan, hindi mai-connect ang mga protektor ng sindikatong ito -- lalong-lalo na sa hanay ng kapulisan."
Over 60 drug suspects have been killed and 3,700 others have been arrested after Duterte's electoral victory, from May 10 to June 20, 2016, according to police figures.
Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said last Friday that bolstered police operations against drug rings is largely due to Duterte's call to curb criminality and the illegal drug trade within three to six months.
(READ: Death toll in war on drugs rises)
Duterte has vowed to issue "shoot to kill" orders for authorities and has promised rewards for the capture of suspects, "dead or alive."
Human rights advocates, the Catholic Church and anti-crime watchdogs have expressed alarm over the rising number of drug suspects getting shot by authorities because they supposedly resisted arrest.
But Reyes observed that no high value target has been killed so far in the drug war.
He said added that authorities should look into possible irregularities in police efforts. "Kailangang bantayan po kung bakit dumarami bakit po biglang dumarami itong mga pagpatay, hindi pa naman umuupo ang Duterte administration."
(READ: All for show? VACC raises questions about rise in drug arrests, slays)