MANILA - A Palace communications official rejected Tuesday a statement of VERA Files that more than 20,000 people have been killed in the government's war on drugs.
PCOO chief brand integrator and Assistant Secretary Ramon Cualoping III said the 20,000 death toll is "very much bloated."
"We admit that there have been people killed during drug operations but we disagree there have been more than 20,000 killed, which some sectors internal and external to the Philippines have been saying," Cualoping told ANC's Early Edition.
"That’s bloated, very much bloated. At the end of the day more or less--I’m not saying only--there’s 6,000 people."
Vera Files over the weekend called out PCOO Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael Banaag for saying there have been only 5,425 deaths under the drug war, when the Supreme Court in 2018 asked government to explain the more than 20,000 deaths in its anti-narcotics campaign.
The figure was based on the Duterte Administration's 2017 Yearend Report, Vera Files said.
Cualoping, however, said the more than 20,000 deaths were filed under homicide cases under investigation, which resulted out of road rage, land dispute, business rivalry, family dispute, love triangle, crimes of passion or politics.
There were 5,489 killed in the administration's war on drugs as of May 31, Cualoping said, citing data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
But the PCOO has yet to reconcile PDEA's statistics with the data of the Philippine National Police (PNP), he said.
"I would prefer the PDEA number, because we always speak with PDEA on a weekly basis. That’s something we have to clarify with the PNP. The 5,000 plus number is the one vetted," he said.
The PCOO plans to release data "in the next couple of weeks" on policemen facing complaints in relation to the drug war, Cualoping said.