Cops kill 32 in ‘shock and awe’ raids
PHILIPPINE police killed 32 people in “shock and awe” raids aimed at scaring drug traffickers, authorities said Wednesday, after President Rodrigo Duterte admitted to setbacks in his controversial crime war.
Duterte has waged an unprecedented crackdown on drugs during his 14 months in power that has seen police and suspected vigilantes kill thousands of people, leading to warnings by rights groups that he may be overseeing a crime against humanity.
Duterte said that what happened in Bulacan, where 32 alleged drug suspects were killed in just a day, was a “good” development, saying the daily killings would resolve the country’s drug problem.
“It’s good. If we can kill 32 people a day, maybe we can reduce what ails this country,” the President said, flaunting a thicker ‘drug list’ updated as of Aug. 8, 2017.
In one of the deadliest operations of the war, police reported killing 32 people in a series of raids Monday on suspected drug traffickers across Bulacan province, which neighbors the capital of Manila.
“We wanted to shock and awe these drug personalities,” Romeo Caramat, the Bulacan police chief, told reporters in Manila on Wednesday, adding 109 suspects had also been arrested.
“Other drug personalities will think twice before continuing with their drug trade.”
Caramat insisted the police had only killed the suspects in self-defense, and highlighted in the press conference that pistols and grenades had been seized in the raids.
“We know we have done nothing wrong,” Caramat said.
He later told AFP that no police had been killed or wounded.
When asked how it was possible there had been no police wounded if the raiding officers had been acting in self defense when killing 32 people, Caramat said: “Don’t ask me to explain.”
Duterte easily won last year’s presidential election largely on a vow to kill tens of thousands of drug traffickers and addicts, which he said was necessary to stop the country’s slide to narco-state status.
Duterte promised during the campaign he would win his drug war in three to six months, a vow that resonated with voters fed up with high crime rates and corrupt politicians.
Duterte then as president railed against critics who said it was impossible to quickly end the drugs problem by killing traffickers and addicts.
But Duterte, limited by the constitution to serving a single term of six years, conceded last week that he might be unable to deliver on his campaign pledge.
“Look, these shabu [meth] and drugs, et cetera, cannot be solved by one man, for a president for one term. It has bogged nations [down],” he said in Davao on Friday.
But in another speech last week, at national police headquarters, Duterte also signalled there would be no change in tactics.
He again vowed to pardon police if they were found guilty of murder for killing while fighting his drug war.
Duterte on Wednesday insisted he could resolve the country’s drug menace, but more killings would have to take place. “I will solve the entire problem. But I need to kill them all,” the President said in a speech during the 19th anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption at Malacanang.
“When I said that I can solve it, I was referring to an environment where I was the mayor,” he added.
The Philippine National Police on Wednesday said it was procedural for their Internal Affairs Services to investigate and look into the circumstances concerning police officers who have shot and killed suspects during the course of operations.
PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos made the statement following the “One Time Big Time Operation” conducted by the Bulacan Provincial Police Office against illegal drugs.
The operation, which started Tuesday midnight and lasted until Wednesday midnight, led to seizure of 367 pieces of heat sealed transparent plastic sachets of suspected shabu approximately weighing 234.4292 grams; 765 grams of marijuana leaves; two hand grenades: 34 assorted firearms; 114 rounds of assorted ammunition in the course of 49 buy-bust operations, 14 search warrants, and three checkpoint operations.
In an apparent attack against human rights groups, whom he expects to condemn him for the killings in Bulacan, Duterte threatened to investigate human rights groups for “conspiring” with criminals, telling the police to “shoot” rights advocates for allegedly “obstructing justice.”
Meanwhile, the New People’s Army, military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said Duterte should resign for his failure to keep his promise to resolve the drug menace within three to six months.
“Owing to his ineffectual campaign to suppress illegal drugs, President Duterte should resign in keeping with his oft-repeated promise to the people,” said Jaime “Ka Diego” Padilla, spokesman of the Melito Glor Command–New People’s Army Southern Tagalog on Tuesday.
“Duterte has utterly acknowledged the inability of his regime to eliminate the widespread scourge of drugs in three months as he initially bellowed like a traditional politician, then six months, then until now after 12 months. Because of this, he should resign,” he said. With AFP, John Paolo Bencito, and PNA