‘Drug War’ deaths surge in the Philippines during coronavirus pandemic


The Philippines has released a new statistics last week showing that police killed 46 people during anti-drug operations in August in the country’s “war on drugs” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Human Rights Watch had reported a more than 50% increase in “drug war” related deaths during the COVID-19 lockdown, from April through July.

The new data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s monitoring system, #RealNumbersPH, shows that the situation is getting worse.

Based on #RealNumbersPH statistics, during the four-month lockdown, the average monthly “drug war” deaths totalled 39, a 50% increase from the four months before the lockdown when the average monthly death rate was 26.

August’s total of 46 reported killings is more than a 76% increase from the four-month average.

“Drug war” operations are typically carried out in urban areas in major cities, targeting impoverished communities that are facing the dual increased risk from the anti-drug campaign and the pandemic.

During the lockdown, these communities have been hemmed in by police and local governments, with residents largely confined to their homes. They become sitting ducks for anti-drug raids by the police and their agents.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a report to the UN Human Rights Council in June, put the number of “drug war” fatalities at more than 8,000 since the campaign was started by President Rodrigo Duterte in July 2016.

Domestic human rights groups and the governmental Commission on Human Rights believe the actual toll is triple that number. #RealNumbersPH, which only includes police killings and not those by gunmen linked to the police, puts the total killed at 5,856.

That even more killings are occurring under cheerleading President Duterte, as Filipinos endure lockdowns, checkpoints, and quarantines in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 is further reason for the Human Rights Council to step in and investigate the country’s human rights violations.

These numbers are horrifying however you add them up and as long as the “drug war” remains official policy, the killings will continue and impunity will remain rife. (Source: HRW)