Government News Analysis

Real figures for dark Times

PNP Director delarosa

Finally – and not before time – the Philippine National Police (PNP) have responded to the bald fiction that 7,000 people have been killed in the country’s War on Drugs. After months of vagueness and silence they have now provided some clarity concerning the true death figures.

The PNP’s crime here is not that it engaged in the mass killing of low-level drug offenders, as much of the mass media and others contend. Its crime is that it inadequately briefed the press and the public about the actual death toll and failed to adequately respond to charges that law enforcement was responsible for a mountain of bodies rising from police actions in its illegal-drugs campaign.

Assertions that 7,000 people have been killed in drug-related actions were never properly refuted. They were dismissed certainly, but the PNP never made any real effort to show how drug-war victims are differentiated from homicides, murders, suspicious killings and deaths under investigation Nor did it explain those categories.

Maybe it was too busy, maybe it felt it didn’t need to, maybe it felt the claim was too fantastic to be dignified with a response. But the PNP’s silence and general vagueness concerning this figure only served to give the claim more credibility.

And that’s all the critics and enemies of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte needed to paint him as a psychopath; all they needed to allege he’d committed crimes against humanity; all they’d needed to file an impeachment case against him; all they’d needed to pursue a strategy to divide the country and replace his government with one of their own choosing.

We don’t expect the loud-mouth New York Times which has perpetuated this lie – hoping perhaps for a Pulitzer Prize or to stem its hemorrhaging circulation – to make a retraction. Of course not. But we do expect the international community to stop mimicking the NYT and trying to build a case on factually flawed data. The United Nations has quoted this figure as has the European Union.

So, in an attempt to set the record straight, here’s the breakdown of the figure as now presented by the PNP.

Between 1 July 2016 when Duterte took office, and 24 March this year, 2,555 people have died as a result of police actions in the illegal-drugs campaign. A further 6,021 have died and are generally classified as “homicide cases”. This latter number is what constitutes the 7,000 so-called extrajudicial killings which are constantly being blamed on Duterte. This is the figure that needs explaining.

Of these, 1,398 are proved to be drug-related while drugs have been ruled out in 828 death incidents. This leaves 3,785 deaths which are currently under investigation.

That may seem like a lot of death, but in a Philippine context it’s not. In fact it’s quite low. Under the previous Liberal administration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, there were 9,756 murders and 3,249 homicides in 2014 and 9,643 murders and 2,835 homicides in 2015. Death tolls then of   13,005 and 12,478 for the respective years. And something else, murders and homicides weren’t investigated any faster then than they are now.

So how did the 7,000 number come into being? Well, first of all it’s a round number so there’s no attempt to frame it as accurate. It’s therefore an estimate based, we believe, on lumping together those that died during legitimate police actions (the 2,555), and a guesstimate from the rest – say, 35%. That would give an addition 4445 “drug-related” deaths bringing the total neatly to 7,000. Alternatively, it could have simply have been arrived at by adding the 2,555 known drugs-war killings by the police to the 4,525 recorded murders committed in the Philippines between July 2016 and January this year. This would give a total 7,080.

Either way, that’s how we believe the New York Times did the maths and unless they can show otherwise we’ll stand by it. Certainly, it’s never backed up its claim with any corroborative figures; any actual data. What this rag has constantly implied is that there have been up to 4,500 illegal drug-war-related killings attributable to the PNP and/or its proxies – they being vigilante groups which the NYT would have us believe are working as some sort of supplementary law-enforcement unit.

The PNP through its commander, Director-General Ronald Dela Rosa (photo), however, has also finally kicked back against the term “extrajudicial killings” (or, EJKs) which the media and others use interchangeably with “state-sponsored” and “Duterte-inspired” without producing a scintilla of actual evidence. Anecdotal babble – which we can all produce – is not evidence, even though it forms the entire case against the War on Drugs.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) which has been highly critical of the drugs war, recently disassociated itself from linking EJKs to the administration. “We never said it was state-sponsored. What we know is there are vigilante killings done during police operations,” CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Gana has said. We’re not sure precisely what she means by that, and certainly have seen no evidence produced by the CHR that shows police and vigilantes have worked together in any anti-drugs operation.

Dela Rosa also reported that 13 police officers have been charged with drugs-related killings and that a further 76 have been charged with a number of drug offences including drug-use, pushing and protecting drug lords. Well, it’s good to get that information at last also.

But while we can and do blame the PNP for not dealing with these issues earlier, we also draw attention once more to just how wanting the New York Times is as a journal of record. It could never show those figures to be accurate, but arrogantly it believed it never needed to. It was just a good number – impressive, looked good in the headline. And anyway, nobody was seriously going to question it; it would never need to prove it, it would get away with it. After all, it’s the New York Times.

Well it hasn’t. It won’t retract its allegations, of course – its entire anti-Duterte coverage is based on these figures. But that’s the true measure of NYT “journalism”. Lack of verification, blatant fabrication and biased politically motivated “reporting”. It’s been guilty of it before and it will do it wherever its political agenda demands. This paper is about as far away from the profession of journalism that it’s possible to get.

No-one seriously thinks of the NYT as a credible international news organ; it’s a long way from being the International Herald Tribune which it swallowed up in a 2002 acquisition. Back in its home country, its editorial policy is currently geared to bringing down the US presidency of Donald Trump. It’s other overseas regime-change ambitions, apart from removing Duterte, is to bring down the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Of course its loud mouth and its inflated opinion about itself far exceed its authority. This is a paper with a struggling circulation of 571,500 and falling. It’s also unapologetically in the camp of the US Democratic Party. The NYT hasn’t endorsed a Republican presidential candidate since its endorsement of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956. In every single presidential race since then – all 15 of them – it’s swung its support behind the Democrat candidate, helping to bring seven of them to power.

If you believe, as the NYT Editorial Board obviously does, that it’s the function of a newspaper to undermine governments and seek regime change, then the New York Times is the paper for you. If you believe, as we do, that newspapers should not be beholden to political parties and that their role is to provide unbiased information about what’s going on in the world, then this is the last paper you should be reading.

For the record, since the PNP re-launched anti-narcotics operations on 6 March, 20 drug criminals have been killed in police actions and 4,160 have been arrested. A further 25,319 drug pushers and users surrendered.

Facebook Comments


  • How do u inform the mainstream which is bias and hostile to the newly elected power that be from the onset? Werent they the one who coined the phrase ” extra judicial killing”?


  • I trust the mainstream media rather than the police report. The police figure is quite self-serving. They are too quick to dismiss that most EJK were done by vigilantes or drug lords without offering any proof. The fact that there were no vigilante or new drug lords being caught and charged with murder speaks for itself.

    • Margie Belleza… who cares if you disagree with me. I stated my argument and you offered nothing. I do not claim to know everything but claiming that you know more than what I know is plain hubris, that is a lame argument

    • Nayrb Olliro Sorensic, wrong. That is called a strawman argument. I did not claim to be an investigator. The issue here is the mainstream media vs. the police report

    • So question Alexy Reyes.. is the mainstream media perfect as to compare it with the corrupt policemen.?The report has been given with numbers..and details.. how do you compare it with the bias mistaken reports of those media men who through their pens and broadcasting assasinate characters in the television in a split of a second after?

    • Don Asoy… that is a strawman argument. I did not claim that the mainstream media is perfect. Figures and details can be manufactured. If the police claim that the EJK were done by the vigilantes and drug lords, where is their proof?

    • My argument is as good as yours… strawman you say… and what is your proof that their numbers are just manufactured? Police ka ba? Than i think… you are not in a position that the numbers and details they produced are just manyfactured? Ganun ba tlga ka bobo tingin mo sa lahat ng police… the generals and all?… why dont you ask gen bato for yourself…

    • Don Asoy … No, you don’t have any argument. I said “Figures and details CAN be manufactured”, I didn’t say that it was manufactured. Your strawman tactic is putting words in my mouth. The police report cannot be trusted because Duterte, himself, declared that the police is rotten to the core. Why don’t you ask Duterte?

    • LOL. Bato also did not prove the reduced and reclassified ejk with all the magic he can conjure. I stand by what Duterte said… the police is rotten to the core

    • I trust the media figures rather than the police report. The police report cannot be trusted because Duterte declared that they are rotten to the core.

    • So do you believe Duterte’s word ryt now? and yet you trust the media facts? well.. after declaring the police rotten to the core, he still believes Bato to cleanse the agency… so which is which now ?

    • you did not say they were manufactured… but you indirectly say it just by telling us here they can be manufactured? how is that different with how media men generallized all deaths to EJK?

    • Don Asoy… it is the media that reported that duterte said that the police is rotten the core. I believe those facts because it was followed by a video footage of duterte saying he did not even trust the nbi and he even said the he is going to use the afp on the war on drugs. Since there is no reaction from malacanan that refutes the news, I can say with all probability that duterte did say the police is rotten to the core. Which is now? I know you are confused. Duterte just keep on flip-flopping. Why don’t you ask Andanar or Abella to explain it to you

    • Don Asoy… that is not new. Read first verbatim what Duterte have said. That is the most incoherent unhinged rant that I’ve ever read

      “Talagang mga walanghiya ang p— inang journalista na ‘yan. Sabihin ko sa inyo talagang walanghiya pati ‘yung ABS-CBN. Because if I have the money p— ina ninyo. Nandiyan na ako sa gobyerno ngayon and you can request any son of a b— there sa central bank. Tell them to get a statement, bakit ako magbigay sa kalaban ko?” he added.

  • mahalaga mabawasan ang mga masasamang elemento sa lipunan kulang pa yang 7k na nabawas…kung hindi naman kayo kasali sa mga masasamang ito hindi kayo dapat matatakot…pero ingat din kayo dahil sa sobra ninyong paniniwalang walang masamang tao sa Pilipinas baka magulat nalang kayo pamilya niu pala ang susunod na biktimahin nila.

  • Well…on my own experience…talamak ang droga sa in madami pa nga ang unreported n case ng drug addiction..madami n nasisira n pamilya..talam n gumagamit nyan ang mga driver..lalo n un nagmamaneho ng magdamag…mababa p nga ang mga sumurender…mababa pa un data…kung papabayaan in just five years..baka half of the population will be affected..directly or indirectly..ang nakakatakot lang..pano n ang mga susunid na generation…kung may other way na hindi magkakasakitan para masugpo ang problema..y not??is there any alternative solution??maging parehas tayo…un against sa laban kontra sa droga…may naiisip po ba kau n solution??

  • Mga bugaw hindi pa pangulo c Mayor Digong uso na ang tinatawag na EJK ngaun yng ibang nangamatay gawain ng mga sindikato mga pulis na kasabwat sa droga mga druglords para d isumbong kng sino sila mga onsehan sa droga kayong mga bugaw hindi kayo nagiicip yung iba lumalaban naman talaga sila sa mga kapulisan kayong mga bugaw kng ayaw nyong meron patayan araw araw eh itigil nyo ang salot na droga sa lipunan kng galit kayo k Digong eh magpaka salot kayo para mangamatay kayong mga gago

  • I’m happy that Pres. Digong is the answer to my miserable years because I cannot sleep well at night or even daytime because of so many minors,children of our neighbors and their gangs that hung out across our gate. Many times reported it to our barangay chairman but to no avail and even patrol cars passed by back and forth because we have many policemen that reside in our subdivision but it’s just nothing for them. Above their heads is nailed on the post,city ordinance for minors,curfew hour and up to now still hanging. They don’t mind about it and keep making noise,drinking and loitering that in the morning broken bottles on road can be seen.Sometimes I got out and shouted to them to stop because it’s already 4:00 a.m. but ignored me. I talked to their parents but they said never heard it and they owned guns and when drunk chased and fought each other because high on drug. But when Pres. Digong won,they disbanded and now they cannot be seen the neighborhood can sleep soundly. Thanks Pres. Digong,thanks PNP chief Gen. Bato.


    ROMANS 13

    Submission to Governing Authorities

    13 Let everyone be subject to governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

  • Nakakatawa ang mga bugok dito mas my tiwala daw sa media report kesa police report gago pano yng mga nangyayaring patayan sa mga probinsiya na hindi nararating ng mga media mo natural mga police ang nakakaalam non at hindi ang mga media naturingan kang matalino pero idiot ka kaya nga maraming pinapatay na media kasi kung gumawa sila ng report eh bias sila lalo na kung contra sa administrasyon karamihan ng meari nung mga studio na yan mga Oligarch dito sa bansa natin na ang interest eh pansarili lng tayong mga pilipino habang my control ang mga Oligarch sa bansa natin malabo ang pag asenso ng mga lahing pilipino itong mga taong to eh mga salot sa lipunan wala silang pakialam sa atin mabuti my pangulo na my bayag sinagasaan niya lahat ang mga animal na yan tayong mga pilipino kng nagkakaisa tayo tungo sa kabutihan ng bansa eh uunlad ang bayan natin pero hanggat my mga taong traydor at nagmamagaling puro lng English tae natin lahat kung aasenso ang pilipinas sadya tayong mga pasaway at walang disiplina na mga pilipino mga uto uto kung ano yng masama ginagawa anong klaseng lahing meron tayo ang kakapal ng mukha hindi marunong mahiya sa kapwa