Vera Files: PCOO ‘contradicted’ what it claims as ‘only’ official source of drug war data
MANILA, Philippines — A Vera Files report questioned the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) after it “contradicted” what their office claims as the “only” official source of drug war data.
According to a Vera Files released July 12, Assistant Secretary Maria Rafael-Banaag reportedly “denied that tens of thousands have been killed in the Duterte administration’s controversial anti-illegal-drug campaign.”
This denial, Vera Files noted, “contradicted what her office (PCOO) called the ‘only’ official source of drug war data, #RealNumbersPH.”
“In a June 4 speech at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Rafael-Banaag said United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights chair Michelle Bachelet and Iceland Minister of Foreign Affairs Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson used ‘baseless,’ ‘unfair estimates’ on the number of casualties in the country’s drug-war, the Philippine News Agency (PNA) reported,” Vera Files said.
Rafael-Banaag made the remark after Bachelet said that an estimated 27,000 had been killed in relation to the administration’s crackdown on illegal drugs since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016.
Vera Files, however, said that data from the government’s 2017 year-end accomplishment report showed that under the “Fighting Illegal Drugs” chapter, labelled as “#RealNumbers”, the PCOO said that there were 16,355 “homicides under investigation” from July 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017, and 3,967 “drug personalities who died in anti-drug operations” from July 1, 2016 to November 30, 2017.
‘Homicide under investigation not at all related to war on drugs’
In a statement released Sunday, the PCOO belied the claims of Vera Files that it had been “inconsistent” with its data on President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.
The PCOO reiterated that the numbers under homicide cases under investigation (HCUI) “are not at all related to the anti-illegal drugs campaign.”
“We are not contradicting these data; in fact, we have been updating these data. May we reiterate that these homicide cases under investigation are not at all related to the anti-illegal drugs campaign,” PCOO said.
“HCUI may have resulted out of road rage, land dispute, business rivalry, family dispute, love triangle, crimes of passion or politics, what may be considered as drug-related incidents are those where the victim is killed by non- government elements because he/she is an alleged informant or the victim is killed and/or raped and killed by a person who uses drugs,” it added.
Citing data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the PCOO said that only 5,489 “drug personalities” have died in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to May 31, 2019.
“The PCOO did not contradict anything. If any, Assistant Secretary Marie Rafael only emphasized in her pronouncements what the government has been saying all along: that the numbers external institutions are quoting are computed inaccurately—skewed to push a certain agenda, and that is to discredit the Duterte administration, the State, all of us,” the PCOO said. /je
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