Philippine Police Acting Like “Criminal Underworld”

Body of a man killed in Pasig, Metro Manila, on Feb. 1.Body of a man killed in Pasig, Metro Manila, on Feb. 1.

Police prosecuting the war on drugs in the Philippines have behaved like the criminal underworld they are supposed to be suppressing, taking payments for killings and delivering bodies to funeral homes, according to a report released on Wednesday.

Amnesty International’s report said the wave of drugs-related killings since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in mid-2016 appeared to be “systematic, planned and organized” by authorities and could constitute crimes against humanity, ABC CBN News reported.

Responding to the findings, presidential spokesman, Ernesto Abella, defended the Philippine National Police, saying no extrajudicial killings were state-sponsored and investigations by Senate committees had proved that.

In a series of reports last year, Reuters showed that the police had a 97% kill rate in their drug operations, the strongest proof yet that police were summarily shooting drug suspects.

Amnesty said the vast majority of the killings it investigated “appear to have been extrajudicial killings-unlawful and deliberate killings carried out by government order or with its complicity or acquiescence”.

Amnesty reported that some police are rewarded by undertakers for sending dead bodies their way, police steal from victims’ homes and paid killers are on the police payroll.

“The police are behaving like the criminal underworld that they are supposed to be enforcing the law against, by carrying out extrajudicial executions disguised as unknown killers and ‘contracting out’ killings,” it said.

Latest police data show 7,669 people have been killed since Duterte unleashed his war on drugs seven months ago, 2,555 in police operations, which the police says were all in self-defense.

The other deaths are classified as investigated, or under investigation. Human rights groups believe most of those are drugs-related, carried out by vigilantes or hit men.


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