Palace amid drug deaths: Streets are getting safer

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 18 2017 02:34 PM | Updated as of Aug 18 2017 03:04 PM

A corpse lies on the pavement at the back of the PhilPost main office in Lawton, Manila. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA - There may be deaths in the slums but at least the streets are getting safer, Palace claimed Friday. 

“Again and again, we hear people say that it’s safer. They feel comfortable and in fact they appreciate that the Philippines is being made safe again,” Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said, amid criticisms against President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal anti-illegal drug operations.

Scores died in simultaneous anti-drug operations in Bulacan, Manila, and Camanava area this week alone, proof of the administration's unwavering stance in its war on drugs. 

Critics have since raised the alarm over the killings, considered one of the deadliest since the Duterte government launched its anti-illegal drug campaign.

Among those killed was a 17-year-old boy who was seen in a surveillance footage being dragged by cops before he was found dead.

“When we did not face these things, there was violence all over the land - old women being raped, babies being raped. It’s just about time that those in government and those in the position to do something be able to address to these matters and end these matters forcefully,” Abella said.

Abella added more people have come to appreciate the President’s campaign because it made the streets safer.

“I believe that masa, the common people in general, the average Filipino, ano man ang political color nila, eh naiintindihan nila kung ano ang dapat mangyari sa bayan,” Abella said.

(I believe that the masses, the common people in general, the average Filipino, regardless of their political color, understand what is good for the country.)

Latest government data show that a total of 3,451 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to July 26, 2017.

The Philippine National Police has also determined that out of the 12,833 homicide cases from July 1, 2016 to June 16, 2017, 2,098 deaths were drug-related and 2,535 not drug-related. A total of 8,200 homicide cases were under investigation "with motives to be determined," the PNP said.

CRITICS ENRAGED

In the wake of the killings this week, human rights groups and the political opposition have again raised concerns.

Leading them is Vice President Leni Robredo, who said that impunity should not characterize the Philippines as a nation.

Amnesty International, which is monitoring cases of killings and alleged human rights abuses in Duterte’s war on drugs, also condemned the police-led killings.

"These shocking deaths are a reminder that President Duterte's lawless 'war on drugs' continues unabated and actually appears to be plumbing new depths of barbarity, with police routinely gunning down suspects, violating the key right to life and completely flouting due process,” Amnesty International said in a statement.