MANILA - (UPDATED) The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday sought to debunk reports that 7,000 deaths related to illegal drugs have been recorded since President Duterte launched his anti-narcotics crackdown.
Only 6,011 "homicides" were tallied between July 1 and March 24, Friday, Chief Supt. Augusto Marquez, PNP Director for Investigation and Detective Management, said in a press conference.
Of this figure, Agusto said only 1,395 cases or 23.2 percent were drug-related, while 830 cases or 13.8 percent were not drug-related.
Sixty-three percent of the cases or 3,786 deaths are still being investigated and have yet to be determined as drug-related or not, Agusto said.
Vice President Leni Robredo, in a video message to the United Nations, recently expressed strong opposition to Duterte's war on drugs, noting that more than 7,000 lives have allegedly been lost to extrajudicial killings (EJKs) since the campaign started.
PNP chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa said Robredo was among those who gave inaccurate reports on the campaign's death toll.
"Ginamit niya 'yung 7,000 EJK. She is one of them na mali ang reporting," Dela Rosa said. (She cited 7,000 EJKs. She is one of those who made wrong reports.)
He said he hoped the Vice President will take their clarification positively.
"How I wish she would take it positively. Hindi po kami nanininira sa kanya. Mataas po ang respeto namin sa kanya bilang Bise Presidente. Gusto lang po naming ma-correct iyung sinasabi niya, para rin naman sa kanya iyan. She's the Vice President, dapat tama ang lalabas na data galing sa kanya," Dela Rosa said.
"We just want to dispute 'yung persistent and irritating claim by some sectors that there are EJKs, na pinipresent nila hindi lang dito sa local community kundi pati sa international community," he added.
(We just want to dispute the persistent and irritating claim by some sectors that there are EJKs, which they present not only to the local community, but also before the international community.)
Dela Rosa earlier contradicted Robredo's statement on the alleged "palit-ulo" scheme, where policemen allegedly arrest relatives of drug suspects who did not surrender.
PNP's clarification on drug war figures, Dela Rosa said, is not aimed at covering up the alleged role of some rogue policemen in the narcotics trade.
Thirteen policemen are facing charges for drug-related killings while 215 other cops were found positive for drug use, Marquez said in his presentation.
Marquez also clarified that deaths amid the drug war should be labelled as "homicides," not EJKs.