Drug war a year after: And the rest is another bloody history
The war on illegal drugs has undoubtedly been the most contentious campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte since he assumed office in June 2016. The extensive media coverage of the crackdown has provided the public startling information about the thousands of drug suspects felled in the bloody anti-drug campaign, some of which have been widely questioned by human rights advocates and various sectors.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) earlier said the number of drug-related deaths from July 1, 2016 to September 2017 was at 6,225–3,850 of which “died in police operations,” while another 2,290 listed as “deaths under investigation.”
But human rights defenders gave a higher death toll, with some estimates going as high as 13,000.
Below, INQUIRER.net rounded up some of the deaths related to the government’s drug war and other police operations in 2017 that drew public outrage. From the death of a child to the killing of a “big-time drug lord,” the list encapsulates the lives of the fallen individuals whose sad fate defined, in part, Duterte’s first year of his leadership and stunned the nation once more.
1. Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17
The killing of 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos happened during a “one time big time” drug raid launched by a team of the Caloocan City police on the night of Aug. 16. Police claimed he was a drug runner. He was shot and killed after he fought it out with lawmen, a claim five witnesses disputed. They said the boy was dragged, choked and punched by policemen. A closed-circuit television footage supposedly corroborated the witnesses’ statements. An autopsy conducted by the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) indicated that he was shot “while kneeling down.” Congress launched a probe into Kian’s case. Surprisingly, even the President hinted that he, too, smelled something fishy. Later on, 16 members of the Caloocan City Station 7, including its head, Chief Insp. Amor Cerillo, were charged with murder and torture cases over the death of the minor.
2. Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19
Just two days after delos Santos’ death, another teenager was killed. Police said 19-year-old and former University of the Philippines student Carl Angelo Arnaiz held up a taxi driver in Caloocan City and was killed in a shootout with lawmen. Authorities said they recovered sachets of suspected shabu from Arnaiz. But the taxi driver, Tomas Bagcal, shattered this claim. When he surfaced on Sept. 10, he confirmed that Arnaiz robbed him but maintained he brought the teenager alive to the police station. The police suffered another blow when PAO showed an autopsy report indicating Arnaiz bore handcuff marks on his wrists. PAO made a conclusion that the killing was staged. It also noted that no bullet tracks or slugs were found at the supposed scene of the crime. Last Nov. 23, the PNP Internal Affairs Service (PNP-IAS) ordered the dismissal of the two Caloocan City policemen involved in Arnaiz’s slay.
3. Reynaldo de Guzman, 14
Although not yet categorized as drug-related case, the death of 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” de Guzman was said to be connected to that of delos Santos.’ Caloocan City policemen also linked de Guzman to the holdup of taxi driver Bagcal. But Bagcal himself said only one person held him up. De Guzman, who was last seen with Arnaiz in their neighborhood in Cainta, Rizal province, on Aug. 17, was later found dead in a creek in Gapan City, Nueva Ecija on Sept. 5. His head was wrapped in packing tape and his body bore at least 26 stab wounds. Until now, the circumstances of de Guzman’s death remain a mystery.
4.Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog
On July 30, Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and six others were killed in a series of raids conducted by police in San Roque Lawis in Ozamiz City. Operatives from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group said the Parojinogs violently resisted arrest, which resulted in a bloody gunbattle. Before the raid, Duterte has tagged the Parijinogs as among the narco-politicians operating in Mindanao, which Parojinog and his daughter, Nova, had repeatedly denied.
5. Hideyoshi Kawata, 17
Even before the death of delos Santos, 17-year-old Hideyoshi Kawata was killed by police in the house of his mother, Mitos, in Barangay 154 in Bagong Barrio, Caloocan City on Jan. 8. This, after the police allegedly failed to capture their target, the boyfriend of Kawata’s mother, Emilio Bolanin, tagged as a drug dealer and drug den operator.
READ: Teenager recalls night cops killed her boyfriend in drug raid
6. 32 drug suspects killed in a massive raid in Bulacan
In what police said was the highest death toll in a single day since the administration launched its brutal war on drugs, 32 suspected illegal drug peddlers were killed on Aug. 15. The PNP has said that while 32 people were killed, 109 drug suspects were arrested in simultaneous operations. The raid even elated the President. “That’s good,” said the President of the raid.
7. Danica Mae Garcia, 5
On Aug. 23, Danica Mae Garcia took the bullet intended for her grandfather, Maximo Garcia, after unidentified men barged into their makeshift eatery. The attack took place four days after Maximo appeared at the police station to clear his name after he learned that he was on a watch list of drug users and pushers.
8. Althea Barbon, 4
Althea Barbon, a 4-year-old kindergarten 1 student, was the youngest casualty of the war on drugs. On Aug. 30, Althea was hit by a single bullet fired by one of the policemen who were chasing her father, Pim Alrick Barbon, a suspected drug dealer in Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental province. While the Barbon family did not deny that Alrick was into drug trading, Alrick’s mother, Marilyn, said this does not justify the killing of Althea. Her family has filed a complaint against the police at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the hope of attaining justice for Althea.
9. Jayross Brondial, 13
The killing of 13-year-old Jayross Brondial on Sept. 25 was considered a “peculiar case.” He was shot dead by a motorcycle-riding man in Pasay City in front of their home. Although not directly related to a police operation, Brondial’s death, according to Pasay police, was either triggered by vengeance or a mistaken identity. Senior Supt. Dionisio Bartolome previously said a witness, Jorge Baladjia, had claimed that a certain Gary Alandra was the “real target.” Alandra was on the barangay drug watch list while his family was being linked to illegal drugs, barangay officials said.
10. Raymart Siapo, 19
On March 29, a group of masked men reportedly abducted and killed 19-year-old Raymart Siapo, a day after a neighbor with whom he had a heated argument, tagged him as a marijuana peddler in Barangay NBBS, Navotas City. The gunmen reportedly forced Siapo to ride with them and asked him to get-off and run. But he couldn’t, because he was born with bilateral club foot (deformed feet). Siapo’s mother Luzviminda, an overseas worker with a two-year contract in Kuwait, was so devastated that she left her job to rush home so she could grieve and bury her son.
For journalist and University of the Philippines, Diliman professor Danilo Arao, the pattern of current “extrajudicial killings” was reminiscent of the martial law-type killings in the 1970s, “where most were done in the middle of the night, complete with a formulaic alibi of police self-defense.”
Arao also sees that, based on anecdotal evidence, the poor and marginalized often fall as victims.
“There are a few high-value targets but even Duterte acknowledged the failure to solve the problem in just six months as promised,” he told INQUIRER.net.
PNP data showed that from July 1, 2016 to Aug. 29, 2017, 376 out of the total 107,156 drug personalities arrested were government workers. Appallingly, 167 of those government workers were elected officials, and 33 were uniformed personnel.
Another data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Directorate for Operations also showed that 8,135 high value targets were recorded from July 1, 2016 to Sept. 19, 2017. Of these, 1,473 high value targets were arrested, and only 145 were killed./ac
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