Philippines Police say 1m people captured in drug war

The Police Director General said there were 1.8 million drug users and pushers based on a 2010 data.

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(REUTERS/Damir Sagolj)
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The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Tuesday said that a total of 1.049 million people have surrendered, been arrested or killed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s fight against illegal drugs.

PNP Director General, Ronald Dela Rosa, said at a news briefing that since Duterte took office in July, the police had accomplished 70 per cent of its target in the war against drugs.

Dela Rosa said there were 1.8 million drug users and pushers based on the 2010 data by the Dangerous Drugs Board.

Duterte, however, said that there could be as many as three to four million drug suspects in the Philippines.

“The PNP is on a continuous campaign against criminal gangs and personalities, with more focus on the arrest and bringing to account of High Value Target personalities involved in illegal drugs,” Dela Rosa said.

Some of the drug suspects include military generals and politicians.

He also said that based on the latest data, 983,232 suspected pushers and users surrendered to the police while 42,543 were arrested between July and Dec. 27.

“A total of 2,157 were killed during police operations; there were in addition 3,000 victims of extrajudicial killings,” he said.

According to Dela Rosa, they may have been killed by the drug syndicates themselves or by vigilante groups and some of the deaths may not have been drug-related.

The Philippine president gained support from the public when, during the election campaign, he promised to suppress drugs and defeat crime in six months.

Duterte said most of the drug addicts sold drugs to sustain their habit and many of them were involved in other crimes.

He has, however, been criticised by the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations for the alleged extrajudicial killings.

Dela Rosa said that the successes recorded by the police so far had been accomplished within the original six-month deadline set by the president.

The President has however moved to introduce a six-month extension because of the extent of the drug problem.

Meanwhile, Philippines authorities have seized more than 890 kilograms of methamphetamine in a series of raids this month in what Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II described as “the biggest drug bust” in the country’s history.

Aguirre, at a news conference, estimated the methamphetamine hauled as having a street value of around 6 billion pesos ($121 million dollars).

“Ten persons, members of a group called `Red Dragon’, were arrested during three raids conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and include three Chinese nationals and seven Filipinos,” Aguirre said.