Drug-related crimes in the Philippines have “decreased” since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office last year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Tuesday.
Based on data from the office of Director for Operations Camilo Cascolan, a total of 64,917 drug suspects surrendered during government’s war on drugs dubbed as Oplan Tokhang.
According to Cascolan, drug-related crimes have dropped by 11.74 percent since July 2016.
The PNP official did not mention the 2015 drug-crime incidence.
He said the “successful” war against illegal drugs saw a reduction in the number of “focus crimes” and other criminal activities across the country.
From July 1, 2016 until March 31 this year, 9,432 drug and homicide cases were investigated, Cascolan told a forum.
Commission of eight focus crimes–homicide, rape, murder, physical injury, robbery, theft, car theft and motorcycle theft–went down, according to him.
The Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) conducted the forum that sought to clarify the number of people who were “actually killed” during the bloody war against drugs.
The ICAD, which was created under Executive Order 15, is composed of the PNP; the Interior, Justice, Health, Education, Social Welfare, Trade and Industry, Agriculture and National Defense departments; Technical Education and Skills Development Authority; Philippine Information Agency; Public Attorney’s Office; Office of the Solicitor General; Philippine Coast Guard; National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) ; Armed Forces of the Philippines; Anti-Money Laundering Council; Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA); and Dangerous Drugs Board.
The PNP Director for Investigative and Detection Management, Augusto Marquez, also told the forum that it is “not true” that more than 9,000 people were victims of extrajudicial killings during the war on drugs.
The figure, which Marquez said covers July 1, 2016 to March 2017, includes the homicide cases that are under investigation.
Only 1,847 cases (19.6 percent) resulted from Oplan Tokhang, he added.
Of the 5,691 homicide cases, Cascolan said, 1,500 cases have been solved.
These cases, he added, “had no witnesses” and drug suspects implicated in them and who were eventually killed “[had]fought it out with authorities.”
Marquez said there is no such thing as “extrajudicial killings” but only “police operations” that chase drug suspects across the country.
The PNP said more or less 65,000 drug suspects were arrested from July 2016 to April this year during its 53,503 joint operations with PDEA, NBI and Bureau of Customs.
The joint operations resulted in the arrest of 64,917 suspects, surrender of 1,266,966 and killing of 2,692.
Epimaco Densing 3rd, Interior assistant secretary for plans and programs, also said there are no extrajudicial killings, only “extralegal killings.”
Several human rights groups, including the government’s Commission on Human Rights, claim that there have been more than 9,000 deaths recorded by Oplan Tokhang.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Jean Ubial said the government is stepping up its efforts in putting up drug rehabilitation centers around the country.
At present, Ubial said, there are 17 drug rehabilitation centers funded by the government and 31 are owned by private companies or non-government organizations.
As of December 31, 2016, there were at least 38 rehabilitation centers already accredited by the Department of Health (DoH), she added.
Ofthe 1.4 million drug surrenderers, Ubial said, only 10,500 were able to undergo rehabilitation in DoH centers.