MANILA - (UPDATED) Drug-related slays are on the rise again, following eased lockdown measures in parts of the country, based on data of the ABS-CBN Investigative & Research Group, which has been tracking incidents since President Rodrigo Duterte announced his controversial war on drugs.
The number of drug-related deaths that the ABS-CBN Investigative & Research Group monitored in the first six months of 2021 alone is already almost twice the numbers reported in the 9.5 months from March 17-Dec. 31, 2020, when a stricter lockdown was in effect.
From January to June of this year, there were already 175 deaths reported compared to 195 reported from March to December 2020 when stricter quarantine restrictions were put in place to prevent the spread of the virus.
"There were fewer reports of these killings. The numbers declined but when restrictions eased we’ve monitored that the numbers are steadily rising again in the last few months,” Che De Los Reyes, head of the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, said on ANC’s Rundown on Friday.
The group’s interactive map and charts showed a total of 6,840 drug-related fatalities from May 10, 2016 up to June 30, 2021. This is slightly higher than the Philippine National Police’s official tally of 6,117 deaths. However, human rights groups believe that figures could be much bigger.
“Our figures are based on news reports. We’ve been compiling this since May 10 2016, after the May 9, 2016 elections and we’ve been consistently monitoring several print and radio, TV networks all over the country and we also scour websites of the Philippine National Police and PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) and other official websites,” Delos Reyes said.
But aside from those reported killed during law enforcement operations, the group also track those reportedly killed by unidentified assailants, and bodies that have been dumped in public places. She said that is probably why their figures are slightly higher than that of the police.
“We believe that this is just a snapshot of the numbers that have been killed or that has perished in this war on drugs because these are the cases that were reported by the media. We know that there’s underreporting...probably because of the lockdown, many local outlets closed down during the pandemic and the mobility of reporters was affected. We surmise that the numbers are much higher than those reported in the media,” she said.
Most of the killings were reported in Metro Manila, like the cities of Manila, Quezon, Caloocan, and also Cebu and the provinces of Laguna and Bulacan. She said these are based on the news reports where there could be a high concentration of news outlets and reporters covering those areas.
“In the beginning, we were corroborating it with police reports and other official records. But as the months passed, it became more and more difficult to access official data on these deaths,” she said.
The group decided to keep track of the numbers when the drug-related killings hit the 1,000-mark in October 2016.
“We thought it’s time to put a face to these figures. They are not merely statistics. They are human beings. They are being killed left and right,” she said.
The data on “MAP, CHARTS: The Death Toll of the War on Drugs” which the group continues to monitor and compiled can be accessed online.
Aside from the interactive map and charts it also shows the names and aliases and other information about those killed.
“We have names. We have aliases. We have the location where it happened. We have the dates. We have the circumstances. We’ve been able to build a trend or a database, if you so will, with names,” she said.
“Were going to continue this as long as there are drug related killings happening in the country.”