POLICE have killed a total of 5,176 alleged drug personalities in 119,841 operations conducted ever since President Rodrigo Duterte stepped in as the country’s president, according to the latest update of Real Numbers PH, the official tally of drug war casualties.

Police secure the house of a drug suspect in San Pedro, Laguna. FILE PHOTO

The latest data, which is reckoned from July 2016, showed that 72 people were killed in January 2019 alone, up from 54 in December 2018.

The number of deaths recorded by the government was lower compared with that of various human rights groups, which had claimed that some 12,000 Filipinos were killed in the war against drugs.

Government data also showed that 170,689 alleged drug personalities were arrested by police officers.

The figure includes 295 government employees, 263 elected officials and 69 uniformed personnel.

Moreover, 2,016 minors ages nine to 17 were caught in illegal drug activities.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) also reported that more than 11,000 barangay (villages) out of 42,044 had been cleared of illegal drugs

Two-hundred eighty-seven drug dens and 14 clandestine laboratories were dismantled by anti-narcotics agents.

A total of P25.94 billion worth of drugs and laboratory equipment were confiscated by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and PDEA, of which P19.14 billion were shabu.

Real Numbers PH is a project of the Presidential Communications Operations Office to counter supposed “fake news” about the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs.

SWS poll

Also on Thursday, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) reported that 4 out of 10 Filipinos were undecided on the truthfulness of claims by police officers that suspects killed in the Duterte administration’s war on illegal drugs resisted arrest.

An SWS poll, conducted from Dec. 16 to 19, 2018 among 1,440 respondents, showed that 44 percent were undecided over police claims that drug suspects died because of violent resistance.

The poll also found 28 percent believed the police were not telling the truth, while 28 percent said the police were telling the truth.

Broken down, 16 percent said the police were “definitely not telling the truth,” while 12 percent said the police were “probably not telling the truth.”

Of the 28 percent who said the police were telling the truth, 10 percent said they were “definitely telling the truth,” while 17 percent said they were “probably telling the truth.”

“This brings the net opinion about truthfulness (percent definitely/probably telling the truth minus percent probably/definitely not telling the truth) of the police to net zero in December 2018, similar to the zero in June 2018 and the -1 when first asked in December 2016,” SWS said.

The latest survey also showed that net opinion on police truthfulness was lowest in Metro Manila at -11, followed by Balance Luzon at -3, Visayas at +3 and Mindanao at +11.

Malacañang played down the latest survey results, noting that SWS, in the spirit of fairness, “should have also fielded a question regarding the good deeds of our policemen in the war against drugs.”

“After all, a total of 165 police officers were killed and 575 were wounded in the campaign against prohibited narcotics, based on the latest report of the PNP. These figures dispel allegations of critics and detractors on legitimate drug operations and show that drug pushers and addicts actually resort to violence when confronted with a threat of apprehension,” Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

“Indeed, illegal drugs, particularly methamphetamine or shabu, alter emotions and cause anger and fear on the part of the user so we are not dumbfounded when violent encounters ensue during police operations,” he added.

Just like in any organization, Panelo said the Palace was “aware that there are rotten eggs that tend to destroy the integrity of the great institution, that is the PNP.”

“While there is no denying that there are erring policemen within their ranks, the PNP has done internal cleansing efforts such as the activation of the Counter-Intelligence Task Force tasked to go after policemen involved in unlawful activities,” Panelo said.

He added that zero tolerance against police misfits was exhibited when the policemen who killed 17-year-old Kian Loyd de los Santos were convicted and the entire Caloocan police force was relieved.

“As PRRD (President Rodrigo Duterte) himself said, ‘There will be hell to pay if you become worse than criminals.’ Such actions show that we in the Administration are intolerant with any kind of abuse coming from those whose duty is to serve and protect the Filipino people,” Panelo said.

Harsher drug war

Meanwhile, Duterte’s net satisfaction rating was at an “excellent” +78 for respondents who believed the police were telling the truth, while it was at a “very good” +61 for those undecided.

The latest survey also showed that respondents who did not believe the police claims posted a lower net satisfaction rating for Duterte of a “good” +39.

Majority also believed police were involved in illegal drug trade, extrajudicial killings and planting evidence against drug trade suspects.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents believed policemen were involved in illegal drug trade, while 66 percent believed some authorities were involved in the extrajudicial killings of alleged suspects of the drug trade.

Also, 58 percent also believed the police often planted evidence against suspects.

The poll, conducted through face-to-face interviews of 1,440 adults aged 18 years old and above nationwide, had a sampling error margin of ±2.6 percent for national percentages and a sampling error margin of ±5 percent each for Balance Luzon, Metro Manila, Visayas, and Mindanao.

For this year, Duterte has vowed to launch a “harsher” war on the illegal drug trade, claiming the country was going “insane.”

WITH CATHERINE S. VALENTE