MANILA - The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday said deaths in the drug war has reached just over 5,000 over the last three years - a thousand less than the figure it earlier released.
The PNP said 5,526 drug suspects were killed from July 1, 2016 until June 30 this year, 1,074 less than the number it cited on June 18. The PNP had said then that 6,600 drug suspects were slain in police operations from July 1, 2016 until May 31 this year.
PNP Deputy Spokesperson Police Supt. Kimberly Molitas said there was confusion with the current data, citing validation that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has to do before updating its Real Numbers platform.
"Let us not be confused because there is a process that we follow for the Real Numbers. All the operations that we conduct in the PNP we submitted to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, having the mandate by law to check on our drug operations, hence that is why Real Numbers have a different data from what we have with the PNP," explained Molitas.
"Do not be confused with what we provide in the PNP because that's like real-time for us. While the Real Numbers, it goes through validation with PDEA first before we put it on the social card," she said, explaining the higher figure it earlier released.
Molitas added that it takes time for PDEA to verify records that come in from all over the country.
"We're waiting for PDEA to confirm all of it before it is placed on the social card. Hindi necessary dahil malaki ang gap na ibinibigay namin ay mali ang numbers na pino-provide ng Real Numbers (the gap in the numbers doesn't necessarily mean the figures that Real Numbers provides are wrong)," she added.
The latest PNP data also showed that 193,086 drug suspects were arrested in the last three years, 421,275 surrendered and were sent to recovery programs, and 134,583 anti-drug operations were held, with 7,054 involving high-value targets.
Data it released last month was much higher: 240,565 arrested, 1,530,574 surrendered and 153,276 raids conducted.
The new data also showed that 681 government workers were among those arrested, including 323 employees, 282 elected officials, and 76 uniformed personnel.
Meanwhile, Molitas said 2,385 children were rescued from anti-illegal drug operations while drug free barangays now number 13,753 out of the total 42,045. They are still to clear over 19,000 barangays, she said.
Last month, the PNP cited a lower figure for drug-cleared barangays at 12,177, with 20,471 more to be cleared.
As for dens and clandestine laboratories, Molitas said they have dismantled 348 and seized P34.75-B illegal drugs.
The PNP's fresh data was released just a week after the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted Iceland's resolution calling for a comprehensive report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, including alleged killings under government's anti-narcotics drive.
The Philippines rejected this call, with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. warning of "consequences" over the development. He has, however, said the Philippines would not leave the UN rights body or cut ties with Iceland.
Human rights groups have been asserting that the actual death toll in the drug war was in the tens of thousands, but government has said such estimate was bloated. It has repeatedly said drug suspects slain in police operations had resisted arrested.
Officials have also said the country's criminal justice system was working and that foreign intervention on the drug war is unnecessary.