Fortun: Drug war killings have not stopped even during COVID-19 pandemic


Posted at May 04 2021 10:38 AM

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MANILA - A forensic pathologist revealed Tuesday drug-related killings did not stop while the country grappled with climbing death toll caused by COVID-19.

For the first quarter of 2021, the Philippines logged 186 drug-related killings, of which 137 of the alleged drug suspects were killed by state forces.

Based on the tally, 49 were committed by unidentified assailants -- usually masked, motorcycle-riding gunmen – with no witnesses.

"We're in the midst of a very serious, deadly pandemic. How come the killings have not stopped?" Dr. Raquel Fortun, chair of UP College of Medicine-Department of Pathology, told ANC.

She added, "It's so deplorable that even in the midst of a pandemic where so many are dying of natural causes because of this virus the killings have not stopped."

Fortun called on authorities to halt the killings.

"In the first place, it's so hard to investigate all these homicides. It takes a toll on your resources. Even as a pathologist I am swamped with cases that I have to finish in terms of reports," she said.

"What more if you are in a team and you have to process all of these crime scenes and process all the evidence and so on."

As the country also continues to record COVID-19-related deaths, Fortun said an inter-faith event called "Damay at Dangal" will be held on May 9 to honor those who died from the pandemic.

"It stemmed from this frustration that it seems that so many are dying but are we doing anything for the dead? Are we even counting them right? Is anybody keeping track of who we're losing? There's this collective sense of frustration and agony and overwhelming sadness. This is the way to somehow reduce that," she said.

The event, organized by concerned citizens in cooperation with CURE Covid, Concerned Artists of the Philippines and the Promotion of Church People's Response, offers a virtual space for collective grief, reflection and action across faiths. 

A mass at Manila Cathedral will be held on May 8 to pray for the thousands of people who died of COVID-19. 

The group also hopes to hold more memorials every 9th day of every month until April 2022.

To date, over 17,000 people have died from the new coronavirus.

"I think not a lot of people realize that what we’re having is a mass casualty incident. It’s a mass disaster. Unfortunately, it's not a disaster that ends. You know, you have a fire and you put it out. You have a storm and then it passes. It's ongoing. It's protracted. The end is not in sight," she said.