9,000 drug killings in PH 'false news' – Palace

Ruth Abbey Gita

MALACANANG branded as "false news" the close to 9,000 drug killings in the Philippines being claimed by the United States (US) State Department.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella asked for "fairness" and "understanding" as the Philippine government continues to wage war against narcotics trade, a campaign promise of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"We expect fairness and not a rush to judgment. Right now, the people appreciate the changes and the way these are carried out," Abella said in a statement, defending the administration's anti-drug war.

"We ask to be understood not just from a single perspective, but from the point of view of Filipinos who desire change, stability and fairness," he added.

On Thursday, Patrick Murphy, US deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia, said America shares Philippines' objective to rid illegal drugs but is worried that some operate "outside the rule of law."

Murphy also expressed concern over the rising death toll of suspected drug personalities in the country.

"We do have a very sustained and deep concern when elements of the drug war are operating outside the rule of law... The growing number of extrajudicial killing is troubling," Murphy was quoted as having said.

Abella said the Duterte administration shared the concern of Murphy but maintained that police are guided by "operational protocols and proper enforcement of law" as they conduct anti-drug operations.

"Local authorities follow operational protocols and the proper enforcement of our laws requires the use of reasonable force merited by the attendant circumstances. Those who breach procedures are made to answer before the law," the presidential spokesperson said.

"The Philippine National Police has an Internal Affairs Service tasked to probe police accused of such violations. This body can suspend or dismiss PNP personnel based on violations incurred and can recommend the filing of criminal charges," he said.

Abella said the "persistent" news reports of 7,000 drug killings that now climbs to 9,000 is not true.

Abella noted that only 1,398 cases of 6,011 homicide cases under investigation recorded from July 1, 2016 to March 24, 2017 are found to be drug-related.

"Only 1,398 cases are found to be drug-related, contrary to news reports that there are now close to 9,000 killed connected with the campaign against illegal drugs," he said. (SunStar Philippines)