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Philippine police arrest 13,391 suspects in Marcos drug war

THE PHILIPPINES accepted 200 recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council, including investigating extralegal killings during its anti-illegal drug campaign. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

PHILIPPINE police arrested 13,391 drug suspects in the first 100 days of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s term, according to the national police chief, who called it a “notable breakthrough.”

In a statement on Tuesday, national police chief Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr. said 1,531 of those arrested were tagged as high-value drug personalities. The arrests were made in 12,231 anti-illegal drug operations from July 1 to Oct. 8.

“This notable breakthrough is a result of consistent and smooth coordination between the Philippine National Police and Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency enforcement units for the past three months,” he said.

Law enforcers used nonviolent methods to arrest the suspects, he added. The Central Visayas regional police office had the most arrests at 250.

The police chief told a press briefing on Nov. 14 police had killed 46 suspects during illegal drug operations five months into Mr. Marcos’ term.

“We tell our police officers that we are for the preservation of life, while keeping them safe during operations,” he said in mixed English and Filipino last week.

In a statement on Nov. 15, the presidential palace said the Marcos government commits to improve peace and order by eliminating illegal drugs.

The state was working with religious groups to persuade drug suspects to surrender, Acting Press Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil said, citing Mr. Azurin.

Last week, the Philippines accepted 200 recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council, including investigating extralegal killings during its anti-illegal drug campaign.

At least 25 police officers have been charged with murder in connection with ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s drug war, Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla told the United Nations (UN)Human Rights Council this month.

More than 30 member-states of the UN Human Rights Council urged the Marcos administration to do something about extralegal killings and human rights abuses in its deadly drug war.

In August, Mr. Marcos told police to temper their use of force while enforcing the law. Interior Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr. said in July the drug war would be “as intensive as before.”

There were 221-drug-related killings from January to August this year, Human Rights Watch said in September, citing a joint study by the University of the Philippines and Belgium’s Ghent University.

The global watchdog has said human rights violations in connection with the Philippines’ anti-illegal drug campaign continue under the Marcos government.

The UN Rights Committee has said the government should cooperate with the International Criminal Court’s probe of the drug war.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has said the country’s probe of human rights abuses in the drug war lacked transparency.

In September, Philippine Solicitor General Menardo I. Guevarra said the country would block an investigation by the ICC on the drug campaign and ensure suspects are tried under local courts.

At least 6,117 suspected drug dealers had been killed in police operations, according to data released by the Philippine government in June last year. Human rights groups estimate that as many as 30,000 suspects died.

“Let’s work together to fight illegal drugs through a more intensified program so that we can finally catch big syndicates that distribute illegal drugs in the country,” Mr. Azurin said in Filipino. — John Victor D. Ordoñez

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