More than 500 suspected drug dealers have been killed since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte launched his campaign against illegal drugs over a month ago, police said.
Since July 1, 525 drug suspects have been killed in clashes with police while more than 7,600 suspects have been arrested in more than 5,400 anti-narcotics assaults, Associated Press reports, citing a report from the Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management of the Philippine National Police.
More than half a million have surrendered to authorities, police said.
Some local news agencies have reported considerably higher death tolls, some as high as nearly 1,000, in counts that included drug suspects killed by unidentified attackers since Duterte emerged as president-elect following the May 9 elections, AP said.
Police officials say those killed had put up a fight, although critics argue that circumstances indicate many of the suspects were summarily executed or killed because police did not follow established procedures in dealing with crime suspects.
“Human rights have been sacrificed in the conduct of the anti-drug drive, with those holding the gun assuming the roles of both accusers and executioners,” Vencer Crisostomo, chairman of the leftist group Anakbayan, was quoted as saying.
“It is impossible to ascertain innocence or guilt if the accused are simply shot on the spot.”
Crisostomo said Duterte’s war on drugs is found to fail if it continues to rely on extrajudicial killings led by a corrupt and abusive police force.
He also said the illegal drug trade is a symptom of deeper social ills such as poverty and unemployment.
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