Soccsksargen death toll in war on drugs: 270
GENERAL SANTOS CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against drugs has killed at least 270 suspects in the Soccsksargen region in Central Mindanao since he launched it upon assuming power on June 30, 2016.
Of the figure, 256 were alleged drug pushers killed during police operations from July 1, 2016 to Oct. 8, 2018, data obtained by the Inquirer from the regional police office showed.
Fourteen drug users were killed during the period, the data showed.
“Admittedly, the drug menace in the region remains, but it is not as worse anymore as before,” said Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, regional police spokesperson.
Chief Supt. Eliseo Rasco, Soccsksargen police director, said fighting drugs remained to be the priority of police.
One of those killed was PO1 Rommel Barcellano, alias “Banjo,” 38, an intelligence agent of the South Cotabato police office.
Barcellano was supposedly on Mr. Duterte’s drug watch list. The policeman’s family denied he was involved in the drug trade.
Police carried out the war on drugs through two main strategies—“Oplan Tokhang” and “Oplan Double Barrel.”
Tokhang, derived from the Visayan words “toktok” (knock) and “hangyo” (plead), was supposed to be a bloodless method wherein police simply ask suspects during home visits to mend their ways.
Tokhang, however, had become associated with the bloodshed that characterized Mr. Duterte’s antidrug campaign.
The President used the scheme to fight drugs in Davao City when he was still its mayor.
Human rights and religious groups have criticized the killings because most of the dead came from the poor.
In his third State of the Nation Address in July, the President reiterated that his antidrug campaign would be “chilling and relentless.”
In Soccsksargen, police data showed 42,946 individuals (40,327 suspected users and 2,619 suspected pushers) surrendered or presented themselves to authorities after 492,773 Tokhang visits by police since Mr. Duterte became President.
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