32 Killed In 'Bloodiest Night' Of Philippines Drug War

By Victoria Kim 08/17/17

Police also arrested 109 others and seized illicit drugs and firearms.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Photo via YouTube

Dozens of drug raids carried out in the Philippines resulted in 32 dead, in what’s being called the “bloodiest night” of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), more than 7,000 suspected drug offenders have been killed in the president’s campaign to punish people who use drugs, dealers, and anyone else involved.

Police killed at least 28 more people on Wednesday night, bringing the total number of deaths to at least 60, according to Reuters.

Upon being elected president in June 2016, Duterte declared a war against drug offenders. "Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun—you have my support," he said at the time. "Shoot [them] and I’ll give you a medal."

The government maintains that the killings are justified, but accounts from witnesses, family members of victims, and police records “show a pattern of unlawful police conduct designed to paint a veneer of legality over extrajudicial executions,” according to HRW.

Police claim that the 32 people killed across Bulacan province where the 67 drug raids occurred in the 24-hour period between Monday and Tuesday were armed and resisted arrest. In addition to those killed, police arrested 109 others and seized illicit drugs and firearms.

The BBC notes that despite the inhumane nature of Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign, many Filipinos support the drug war, including those who say it’s made them feel safer.

The drug war was briefly put on pause this past January, according to the BBC—after controversy arose. The Philippine National Police (PNP) had kidnapped and murdered a South Korean businessman in Manila in October 2016, then tried to extort ransom money from the dead man’s wife under the pretense that he was still alive.

The deadly campaign has since resumed in March. Also in recent news, on July 30, Philippine police shot and killed Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog of the city of Ozamiz—making him the third Philippine mayor to be killed by police in less than a year based on the belief that he was involved in the drug trade. 

Last year, then-presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte promised to kill 100,000 criminals in the first six months of his presidency—adding that he would dispose of so many bodies in Manila Bay that “the fish will grow fat,” according to the New York Times.

In July, Al Jazeera reported the accounts of fisherman who said they were ordered by police to dump as many as 20 bodies in the bay: “Police are the ones coming to my house ordering me to take out the 'trash.' We usually throw them out in Manila Bay,” said Manuel, a local fisherman. “Sometimes we put weights on it, so it doesn’t float up.”

Duterte praised police for the recent spate of drug suspect killings: "Let's kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what ails this country."

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr