PNP chief denies drug-related killings ‘doubled’ during COVID-19 lockdown
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Camilo Cascolan on Wednesday said the killings in anti-drug police operations did not double during the implementation of lockdown aimed at curbing the coronavirus disease.
“The figures did not double during the COVID infection or COVID timeframe,” the PNP chief said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, reacting on Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that the drug war deaths increased during the coronavirus lockdown.
“What I would want to tell you is that it just increased further but for at least nine or from 200 to 210,” he added.
Citing data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, HRW said 50 percent more people died in anti-drug operations nationwide in the four months of the COVID-19 pandemic than four months prior to the lockdown.
As of July 2020, 5,810 people were killed in the thousands of anti-narcotics operations of law enforcers since President Rodrigo Duterte started the crackdown on illegal drugs in 2016.
Cascolan is the author of the police’s Project Double Barrel. It included the controversial police program “Oplan Tokhang,” which was activated during the term of former PNP chief and incumbent Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
There is also a need for police officers to improve their marksmanship during anti-criminality operations, Cascolan said.
“I didn’t say they tend to shoot, they need the skills where to shoot the person sometimes. For example, but once you are at the advantage once you have a gun, you have to be skilled you have to be a sharpshooter already,” the PNP chief said when sought for confirmation if some law enforcers have poor marksmanship.
“What I believe in is that we need to have regular practices, regular shooting lectures and at the same time we need to have people if they graduate from recruitment. It would be sustaining, it will be developing but at the same time for those, who do not know the skills right now, they are being evaluated. At the same time, they will be lectured,” he added.
Cascolan said he will seek funds for the training which he will present to the Senate hearing on the proposed 2021 budget.
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