Posts Tagged ‘war on drugs’

Philippine Government Under-Reported Police Deaths in War on Drugs — Group Says 242 policemen died in drug-related raids

December 9, 2017
Police inspect firearms, ammunition, shabu and communication equipment seized in June from members of a big drug ring arrested in Pandag, Maguindanao. Unson, file
MANILA, Philippines — The most recent #RealNumberPH data release contradicts a new claim by President Rodrigo Duterte made on Thursday that 242 police officers have died in drug operations.

Duterte, a guest at the Kapampangan Food Festival in Clark, Pampanga on December 7, stressed that shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride) makes drug suspects violent and aggressive, forcing law enforcers to shoot back and kill them.
“Pero why is it, if it is not that dangerous and violent, why is it that to date, I have lost 242 policemen in drug-related raids and arrest?” he said according to an official transcript released by the Presidential Communications Operations Office.
He later said that, including police officers killed in the Marawi siege that lasted from May 23 to October 23, the number of police killed is close to 300.
“That is why in the — the Mindanao campaign against drugs, I have lost something like almost 300 policemen. That is including those who died in the actual fight when there was the siege already. ‘Yung noon ‘yun, those were arrest… and the deaths of — until today,” he said.
“And you can be very sure of this. I’m losing on the average six to eight soldier or policemen in Mindanao in drug-related cases,” he also said.
But the latest #RealNumbersPH infographic released by the PCOO tallies 86 security personnel killed in drug operations between July 1, 2016 and Nov. 27, 2017.
That number includes personnel from the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the National Bureau of Investigation, logos on the infographic suggest.
Of the 312 casualties, 226 were wounded.
The #RealNumbersPH campaign was launched to give the public what the government says is accurate data on the war on drugs.


Marawi casualties


According to the PNP in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, six police officers had been killed in fighting in Marawi as of October 6.
Another 61 cops had been wounded in operations to liberate the capital of Lanao del Sur from Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists at the time.
A press release on the PNP website on a heroes’ welcome for Special Action Force troopers on October 25 said that of 500 police commandos deployed to Marawi, four had been killed in action.
SAF said 60 of its personnel had also been wounded during operations there.
According to reports, security forces lost 165 personnel in the battle for Marawi, which was declared liberated after five months of fighting. Clearing operations continue in the city’s main battle area.
Security officials have shrugged off differing figures on drug war casualties in the past, saying the president has intelligence sources that heads of the police and military may not have access to.

Philippines: Highlights from the Supreme Court oral arguments on the drug war

December 7, 2017
One of the fatalities, who has yet to be identified, was killed in an alleged shootout with police officers in Guiguinto, Bulacan on June 16. AP/Aaron Favila, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court held three days of hearings, through oral arguments, on the petitions challenging the constitutionality of the drug war on November 21 and 28, and on December 4.

Two groups of petitioners are seeking a protection order from the high court over the ruthless killings of their loved ones and of people in their community.

Aside from the writ of amparo against the police, petitioners are also asking for the issuance of a temporary restraining order on the PNP’s drug war operations.


Aileen Almora asked the SC to stop extrajudicial killings that critics attribute to the nationwide war on drugs. Almora’s brother, Ryan Dave, was killed in an anti-dug operation.

Rowena Appari’s son was killed in a home invasion. Jefferson Soriano was shot several times, but survived.

They were represented by lawyer Chel Diokno of the Free Legal Assistance Group.

A second petition was filed by members of a religious order in San Andres Bukid, Manila, where 38 petitioners claim the existence of “systemic violence”.

They were represented by Center for International Law.

Lawyer Rommel Butuyan faced the high court for the oral arguments.


The respondents in the petition are:

  • Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, Chief of the Philippine National Police
  • Undersecretary Eduardo Año of the Department of Interior and Local Government
  • Director General Aaron Aquino of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency
  • Superintendent Joel Coronel, chief of the Manila Police District
  • Other members of the PNP

Solicitor General Jose Calida represented the petitioners.

In his comment filed before the SC began oral arguments, the government’s chief legal counsel said that the drug war is being “emasculated and undermined” by petitions of the families who lost their loved ones in the violent police operations.

He reiterated this statement before the high court and claimed the petitions are destabilization acts against the Duterte administration.

The court summoned Dela Rosa, Aquino, and Undersecretary Catalino Uy, as well as the other members of the police force and PDEA for the second day of the oral arguments

Central to the petitions are PNP CMC 2016-16 for the Project Double Barrel and the DILG memorandum circular 2017-112 on Masa Masid.

Here are some of the issues debated by the justices, petitioners and respondents:

Barangay list

Under the DILG “Masa Masid,” a list of suspected drug users and sellers is drawn up from names put in a community drop box.

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio raised: “The barangay chair can include his political enemies there?”

Butuyan said yes, since the list is submitted in confidence. He added that the residents would not know, except for some instances, about their names being included in the list.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno also quizzed Calida on the list.

She asked: “Is the list subject to habeas data petition? If a person feels he is on the list, can he file a habeas data petition?”

The writ of habeas data is a remedy for any individual “whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act of any official or employee, or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information.”

Calida said that the government “will invoke national security,” adding “there are certain matters like top secrets that cannot be divulged.”

What does ‘neutralize’ in the memorandum mean?

The Execution section of the PNP memo states: “The PNP intends to equally address illegal drug problems in the barangays and at the same time pursue the neutralization of illegal drug personalities.”

Diokno raised before the justices: “What we question is why they have to add the word negation… which has no counterpart in law.”

“By its language, it can be construed by the officers on the ground to authorize killing that is not allowed in our system,” Diokno also said.

Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza said: “You have a situation where a government circular contains vague terms which can be taken to mean as license to kill, and you are saying that is unconstitutional, yes?”
Diokno answered in affirmative.

Dela Rosa, during the third hearing of the consolidated petitions, told justices that he has never ordered his officers to kill anyone.

Verbal orders?

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio started his interpellation of Calida on the third day of the hearing, remarking on several pronouncements by President Rodrigo Duterte telling the police to go ahead and kill drugs suspects. The justice asked if these orders, delivered in Duterte’s trademark freestyle speeches, are guidance for the police.

Calida replied that he has no personal knowledge of the pronouncements and is not in place to answer the question.

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, while grilling Calida, pointed out that the the memorandum explicitly states that it emanated from a verbal order from Duterte.

Listed as the first item of reference in the PNP memorandum is: “Pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte to get rid of illegal drugs during the first six months of his term.”

Street peddlers vs. drug lord

Section 3 of the PNP memorandum circular on Oplan Double Barrel explicitly states that there are three transnational drug organizations operating in the Philippines.

“Chinese or Filipino-Chinese drug syndicates dominate the drug market in the country,” the PNP memorandum stated. It added that these Chinese syndicates “facilitate production, manufacturing and bulk smuggling of dangerous drugs in the country.”

Carpio, in his interpellation of Calida, asked if there have been Chinese or Filipino Chinese drug lords neutralized by the police since July 1, 2016.

Calida said 418 Chinese suspects have been arrested, stressing none have been killed.

Violations of rights

PNP’s Operation Double Barrel pertains to two projects: Oplan Tokhang (house-to-house visitation) and Project High-Value Targets.

The justices asked the petitioners if the execution of the two orders violates the Bill of Rights.

Carpio asked Diokno: “When the police conduct case build up just because you refuse entry, that violates the right to privacy because you may refuse entry, correct?”

Diokno answered in the affirmative.

Leonen, meanwhile stated that the Oplan Tokhang setup violates the right against self-incrimination, right to custodial interrogation, and the right to domicile.

He also said that if threats are given to those who refuse entry to their residence, it may be violation of the anti-torture law.

Calida, however, stressed that the police, during visitation, only stay at the gates.

He added that if the residents refuse entry, the police will move to the next door.

Death investigation

Carpio ordered the solicitor general to submit the records of the 3,800 “deaths under investigation” that the police are looking into.

He asked the following information to be submitted with the memoranda:

  • gender, ages of the killed
  • place and time of operations
  • name of police leader and members who participated
  • pre-operations plan
  • post-operation report
  • whether search warrants or arrest warrants were issued
  • names of the representatives issued

The Court allowed the parties to submit their respective memoranda 60 days from December 5, the last day of the hearings.

After the parties submit their memoranda, the case is deemed submitted for decision.

Philippines President Duterte Puts Philippine National National Police (PNP) Back Into Drug War — They have a human rights app now — Returning to dead body counts?

December 6, 2017
The Catholic Church sees the President’s order as a ‘bad move,’ but presidential spokesperson Harry Roque says the PDEA remains the lead agency in the war on drugs, with the police only providing active support
 / 07:28 AM December 06, 2017
PNP, other law enforcement agencies ordered to help PDEA in drug war

Saying there was a “notable resurgence in illegal drugs,” President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered the Philippine National Police to actively support the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the war on drugs.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the PDEA remained the lead agency in the war on drugs.

The PNP, the military and other law enforcement agencies would only provide “active support” to the PDEA, Roque told a news briefing.

Mr. Duterte’s order on Tuesday, he said, “supersedes the earlier memorandum that designated the PDEA as the sole agency that will deal with the entire illegal drug operations.”

Roque said that if the PNP wanted to revive “Oplan Tokhang,” it should coordinate first with the PDEA.

“Well, it’s very clear the PDEA is the lead so if Tokhang will be implemented by the PNP, I would suppose there would have to be coordination with the PDEA,” he said.

“If they want to resume Tokhang, they need to confer with the PDEA on how to implement it. The PDEA must be consulted and the PDEA must not be deprived of its role in the implementation of the Dangerous Drugs Act,” Roque added.

Thousands of people have been killed in the PNP campaign, drawing expressions of concern from the United States, European Union, United Nations and international groups about human rights violations in the Philippines.

Mr. Duterte badmouthed them all, accusing them of meddling in Philippine internal affairs.

On Oct. 11, Mr. Duterte designated the PDEA as the “sole agency” in the antidrug campaign after a series of killings of teenagers in northern Metro Manila, which was blamed for the drop in the President’s public approval ratings.

It was the second time that the PNP was stripped of its lead role in the drug war.


In January, the President ordered the PNP to suspend its antidrug operations after narcotics police allegedly kidnapped South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo and killed him inside Camp Crame, where the PNP headquarters is located.

The President allowed the PNP to resume the war on drugs after more than a month due to reports that the country’s drug problem had worsened.

This time around, Mr. Duterte said the PDEA had made significant strides but there was a resurgent drug problem and crimes related to it.

“PDEA has made significant strides in the government anti-illegal drug campaign since Oct. 11, 2017, with only one drug suspect killed in the course of its anti-illegal drug operations,” the President said.

“[However, it] has been seriously hampered in performing its huge mandate by the lack of resources, specifically agents and operatives, who can penetrate drug-infected areas down to the municipal and barangay levels,” he said.

The President noted that the PDEA had only about 2,000 personnel to deal with the drug problem in the entire country.

“There is a clamor from the public to restore to the PNP and all other law enforcement agencies the responsibility of providing active support to PDEA in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations,” he said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

The President directed the PDEA to submit a monthly report on the progress of the campaign while the Dangerous Drugs Board would remain the policymaking and strategy-formulating body.

“So now, the President clearly wanted the PDEA to take the lead but it wants to avail [itself] of the manpower resources of all other agencies of government, not just the PNP,” Roque said.

‘Bad move’

The Catholic Church warned that Mr. Duterte’s allowing the police to rejoin the war on drugs was a “bad move.”

Speaking on Church-run Radio Veritas, Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez called the faithful to pray.

Novaliches Bishop Emeritus Teodoro Bacani said Mr. Duterte’s decision raised questions, especially after the PDEA had achieved gains and implemented reforms in the war on drugs.

“After all, the President said 40 percent of the PNP was corrupt and he replaced them twice. There have not been significant reforms. He is interested in dead body counts,” Bacani said.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said the decision only showed Mr. Duterte’s fickle-mindedness.

“Didn’t he see that the PNP was already a failure? He did not give the PDEA a chance to prove itself. He did not even give it time,” Pabillo said. —With a report from Tina G. Santos

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Image result for duterte, dela rosa, together, photos

President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa. PhilStar photo

Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal

Philippine Judge Carpio asks: Were there Chinese drug lords killed by the Philippine National Police?

December 5, 2017
Senior Associate Justice Antoniol Carpio was the first to interpellate Solicitor General Jose Calida who is defending President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs before the high court. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio asked Solicitor General Jose Calida on the number of Chinese or Filipino-Chinese drug lords killed by the PNP since the start of the drug war.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday resumed its hearing via oral arguments on the consolidated petitions challenging the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.

Carpio was the first to interpellate Calida who is representing government officials who were respondents in the petitions.

Carpio highlighted Section 3 of the PNP memorandum circular on Oplan Double Barrel that explicitly states that there are three transnational drug organizations operating in the Philippines.

“Chinese or Filipino-Chinese drug syndicates dominate the drug market in the country,” the PNP memorandum stated. It added that these Chinese syndicates “facilitate production, manufacturing and bulk smuggling of dangerous drugs in the country.”

Carpio asked Calida: “How many Chinese or Filipino-Chinese drug lords have been neutralized by the PNP since July 1, 2016?”

Calida replied: “Based on statistics, there were 418 Chinese who were arrested.”

The government’s chief counsel stressed that they were “not killed, but arrested.”

Calida added that they still could not determine what the exact role of the more than 400 Chinese arrested by the police was—whether they were users, peddlers or manufacturers.

The senior justice further grilled Calida: “Can you explain why PNP, in this circular, is concentrating on street-level operations and is practically ignoring the big time drug lords?”

Carpio stressed: “How come the flagship project of the president is concentrated in going after small-time peddlers? Why not big-time drug lords?”

The second group of petitioners, represented by the Center for International Law, are kin of the victims of the drug war in San Andres Bukid, Manila. They claim that there is “systematic violence perpetrated by or wrought in conspiracy with the respondents through the members of the Manila Police District Station 6” in the San Andres Bukid district of Manila.

READ: SWS: 60% believe only poor killed in drug war

But Calida said Duterte’s instruction was to go after all drug users, sellers and manufacturers. He added: “The big-time Chinese drug lords are outside our jurisdiction. They are in China.”

Carpio then asked Calida to include data on the more than 3,800 killed in the drug operations of the police in his memorandum.

The justice wants the following information:

  • gender, ages of the killed
  • place and time of operations
  • name of police leader and members who participated
  • pre-operations plan
  • post-operation report
  • whether search warrants or arrest warrants were issued
  • names of the representatives issued

“You must know them because you are investigating them,” Carpio pointed out.

This is the first time that Duterte’s bloody drug war was brought to the high court.

Philippines President Duterte proclaims Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist groups

December 5, 2017
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte’s order will enable law enforcers to run after individuals who provide financial support to CPP-NPA. AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:35 p.m.) 

— President Rodrigo Duterte has proclaimed the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army, as terrorist groups.“I, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, declare the CPP-NPA as designated and/or identified as a terrorist organization pursuant to the Section 3 and 15 of the RA 10168 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque announced Tuesday afternoon.


Duterte’s order would enable law enforcers to run after individuals who provide financial support to CPP-NPA as Republic Act 10168 criminalizes the financing of terrorism.
Roque also read the memorandum issued by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre directing the latter to “immediately file the necessary application for the prescription or the declaration of the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization with the appropriate Regional Trial Court.”
Roque clarified that the terrorist tag is not applied to the National Democratic Front.

On November 23, Duterte formally terminated the peace negotiations with the communists.


READDuterte formally terminates peace talks with RedsDuterte ‘sabotaged’ peace talks, claims Joma Sison


Image result for duterte, dela rosa, together, photos

President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa. PhilStar photo

Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal

The Philippines: when the police kill children

December 2, 2017

By Ted Regencia

Al Jazeera

One news report says death toll in the war on drugs could be as high as 14,000 [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

One news report says death toll in the war on drugs could be as high as 14,000 [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]


Manila, Philippines – His parents named him Reynaldo de Guzman, but everyone knew him as Kulot (Curly) on account of his hair.

Kulot grew up in Anak Pawis (Child of Sweat), a district by the banks of Manila’s largest floodway.

Here, homes made of cardboard and bamboo vie for space with partially constructed concrete apartments.

During the rainy season, the debris-filled floodway overflows, leaving the neighbourhood’s houses under water.

But just a drizzle is enough to stir the stench from the nearby sewers.

Kulot lived with his parents and two of his four siblings in a one-room home where tattered tarp and chicken wire covered the only window.

On school days, he and his younger brother would rise before the sun to begin their two-kilometre walk to school, a place where classmates often teased him for being older and bigger than them and where the brothers rarely had money for lunch.

After school, Kulot would earn less than a cent and a free meal for hauling buckets of fish for sale around the neighbourhood.

On the weekends, he mixed cement or loaded sand and gravel at nearby building sites, handing over almost all his earnings to his mother.

Neighbours remember him as everyone’s favourite errand boy.

Then, in mid-August, Kulot went missing. He was 14 years old.

WATCH: Another child dies in Duterte’s war on drugs

Eighteen days later, his body was found 100km from his home, in a creek called Kinamatayang Kabayo (A Horse’s Deathplace).

His face was wrapped in plastic and bound with tape.

Police say his body bore signs of torture and at least 26 stab wounds, many inflicted after he died, some so deep they pierced his heart and lungs.

At the time of his death, the Philippines was already reeling from the murders of several teenagers suspected to have been killed as part of the government’s war on drugs.

According to a Global Post report, as many as 14,000 people may have been killed as part of President Rodrigo Duterte‘s drug war since he took office in 2016.

The Duterte administration has disputed these numbers, claiming that 3,451 “drug personalities” were killed during police operations from June 30, 2016, to July 26, 2017.

It describes more than 2,000 other cases as drug-related homicides by unknown assailants, while at least 8,200 other killings remain “under investigation”.

Of that number, dozens are believed to be teenagers or children.

Human rights organisations, activists and opposition politicians say Duterte has given the police a free pass to sidestep the law and carry out killings without fear of prosecution – allegations his administration and the country’s police force have repeatedly denied.

Eighteen days after he went missing, Kulot’s body was found 100km north of Manila [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

One neighbourhood, two dead boys

Kulot’s relatives and neighbours insist he was not involved in drugs.

The news of his death dealt a second blow to a neighbourhood that was already in mourning.

The day before Kulot’s body was found, the community had buried 19-year-old Carl Angelo Arnaiz, a friend of Kulot’s and the last person he was seen with.

The police say the honour student was killed in a shoot-out after he tried to rob a taxi driver. But his death was later classified as murder by government prosecutors.

Carl and Kulot went missing on the same mid-August night the police launched a major drug war operation across Manila and its suburbs. It left at least 80 people dead in the space of three days.

Relatives and neighbours say the two friends went out for midnight snacks, but never returned.

Carl Arnaiz, a 19-year-old honour student, was among the dozens of children and teenagers killed in Duterte’s drug war [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

At around the time Carl and Kulot disappeared, the attention of the country’s news media was on the death of another teenager, 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, who was killed during a drug raid in the Manila district of Caloocan.

A closed-circuit camera captured the moments before Kian’s death.

In the grainy video, Kian was shown being dragged by officers, contradicting a police report that claimed the Grade 11 student had tried to engage them in a gunfight.

Kian’s bullet-ridden body was later found in a pigsty. When forensic evidence revealed that he had been executed while on the ground, a nationwide outcry ensued.

Murder charges were filed against three police officers.

As the news of what had happened to Kian emerged, Carl’s family grew ever more frantic in their search for him.

They pleaded for help on social media and his mother, who was working as a housekeeper in Dubai, rushed home to join the search.

Ten days after he disappeared, his body was found in a morgue in Caloocan. He had five bullet wounds to his chest and stomach.

Questions began to circulate within the community and the media. How had his body ended up 20km away from his home, they asked. Were the Caloocan police involved?

When two versions of a police report emerged about the attempted robbery police allege Carl was involved in, they seemed to raise more questions than they answered.

After he went missing, Carl Arnaiz’s mother, Eva, returned from Dubai to join the search for her son [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

The taxi driver, Tomas Bagcal, who had been in hiding for 16 days, came forward to say the police had forced him to sign the reports.

He also said that, contrary to what was stated in them, Carl had used a knife, not a gun, during the attempted robbery, and that he wasn’t alone – Kulot was with him.

The police had apprehended Carl and Kulot, he said, and both were alive when they were taken to police headquarters in Caloocan. He had followed the police car to the station, he explained.

Bagcal later told a Senate hearing that after police interrogated Carl and Kulot at the station, the two boys were taken to an unlit area beside a Caloocan highway, where two police officers shot and killed Carl, who was handcuffed and kneeling on the ground – testimony that was corroborated by two other witnesses.

Forensic experts from the public prosecutor’s office concluded that Carl’s death was an “intentional killing”. Erwin Erfe, a spokesman for the office, told reporters that Carl was “handcuffed, beaten up, dragged and then shot to death”.

He was bruised, had two black eyes and marks from handcuffs on his wrists, Erfe added.

In a separate interview, Erfe told Manila-based news website Rappler that the gun and sachets of crystal meth and cannabis found next to Carl “could have been easily planted” and that the supposed crime scene, where Carl’s body was found, appeared staged.

Contrary to two differing police reports, prosecutors said Carl Arnaiz was “handcuffed, beaten up, dragged and then shot to death”[Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

A funeral

On a rainy Tuesday morning, more than 100 people gathered for Carl’s funeral.

After the mass, the priest, Norman Cordova Balboa, explained how seeing Carl’s body had reminded him of his own brother, who was killed by a soldier in 1994 when he was 14 years old.

His mother had died “with a broken heart”, he added, without ever getting justice for her son.

Outside the church, Carl’s former classmates at the state university shouted slogans against the war on drugs.

The following day, Carl’s grandmother, Norma Magat, struggled to reconcile what she knew of her grandson with the police allegations.

Slouching on a single bed in the corner of the family’s small living room, she pointed out bags of crisps, cans of sardines, packets of biscuits and bottles of shampoo arranged on a makeshift counter in one corner of the room, their prices listed in Carl’s neat handwriting beside his academic medals and certificates.

Carl had opened the small store, known locally as sari-sari (sundry), after he dropped out of university suffering from depression.

He did not want his family to have to depend solely on his mother’s remittances from Dubai, his grandmother explained, and dreamed of her being able to return.

When she did it was to search for her missing son.

Why would he need to sell such things if he was dealing drugs, his grandmother asked, perplexed.

University students protest against the country’s drug war during Carl’s funeral [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera

The body in the creek

The day after Carl’s burial, residents of Anak Pawis learned that Kulot’s body had been found.

A woman had discovered it floating in the creek in Nueva Ecija, 100km north of Manila, and alerted police.

The morgue contacted Queen Chellsy Magual, a neighbour of Kulot’s family who had posted her mobile number on Facebook during the search.

She couldn’t tell whether the disfigured boy in the grainy photos the morgue sent her was Kulot, so she showed his family.

Kulot’s parents rushed to the morgue in Nueva Ecija.

According to news reports, Kulot’s father, Eduardo, and his mother, Lina, identified their son from a birthmark on his leg.

But, unable to afford a coffin, they couldn’t immediately bring him back to Manila with them.

Kulot’s older brother, 17-year-old Edmundo, recalled seeing the pictures of his brother’s body and of refusing to believe it was him until he saw the remains for himself.

Where the sky weeps

Kulot’s body was found 100km north of Manila [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

So for the second time within a week, the village hall at Anak Pawis was turned into a funeral room.

On top of Kulot’s coffin were two pictures of him emblazoned with the word, “MISSING”.

The first came from his school ID, the second from the mobile phone of the neighbourhood fish vendor who Kulot would work for in the evenings.

His family had no other pictures of him.

Nearby were two of Kulot’s baseball caps, a bottle of his favourite energy drink and three chicks, based on the belief that the hatchlings would eat away at the murderer’s conscience and bring the family justice.

For six nights, Kulot’s brothers stayed up to watch over him, taking turns to nap on a piece of cardboard on the floor beside the coffin.

Outside, under a tarpaulin tent, neighbours played cards and drank coffee as they kept vigil.

The rain came and went, prompting one to declare “even the sky is weeping for Kulot” as others doubted that the fifth-grader known for working so hard would ever conspire to commit a crime.

Murders in Manila [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

‘Two systems of justice’

As outrage was brewing over Kulot’s death and that of other teenagers, the halls of the Philippine Congress were abuzz over allegations linking President Duterte’s son, 42-year-old Paolo, to the attempted smuggling of $125m worth of drugs from China.

Antonio Trillanes, an opposition senator, accused the president’s son of being a member of a Chinese criminal syndicate.

Paolo, vice mayor of the family’s political heartland Davao City has denounced the allegations as “baseless”.

Critics said the drug-smuggling investigation showed there are separate justice systems for the rich and the poor.

WATCH: Duterte’s son questioned over illegal drug smuggling

On the day before Kulot’s funeral, however, tensions erupted at the wake when authorities tried to reclaim his body for further “evaluation”.

Police claimed the DNA test conducted on Kulot and his parents did not match.

Already in despair over his son’s death, Kulot’s father, Eduardo Sr lashed out at the police officers, telling them to back off, saying no one could take away his son from him.

Eduardo Sr’s drooping eyes could not even conceal his anger, according to video clips posted on news sites.

He insisted the burial will proceed the next day.

The public attorney representing the family also fumed, telling reporters the DNA testing the police conducted was not even authorised.

Persida Acosta said it is standard operating procedure for a lawyer to be present if DNA testing is administered.

No other family came forward to claim the body, but Kulot’s other family members and neighbours were still left confused at the police response, despite the insistence of Kulot’s parents that it is him.

Kulot’s eldest brother, 22-year old Royette, and his brother’s wife Grace began to doubt, telling Al Jazeera there was a mix-up, and that the boy inside the coffin was not Kulot, as the cadaver is “too short”.

Kulot’s hair colour also looked different, and he had an ear piercing, said another brother, Edgardo, 19, who had not seen him in months.

The three were huddled next to Kulot’s coffin as they chatted.

‘Our flesh and blood’

A  major Philippine newspaper criticised the police for denying Kulot’s family a “dignified burial” for their son [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

Amid a new cloud of doubt over Kulot’s identity, the morning of his burial came.

Security personnel briefly ushered his parents to the village hall to take another look at their son.

Authorities had taken custody of the parents without giving an explanation.

Kulot’s mother, Lina, bursts into muffled tears as she runs her right hand on the glass covering of Kulot’s coffin.

She wiped away her tears with her orange shawl.

She had been sleepless for days since her son had disappeared, and on the day of the funeral, she could hardly walk, and was helped by two elderly female community volunteers.

Unlike Carl’s funeral, there was no procession for Kulot.

Special police assigned to the family did not explain the haste, and avoided questions by the media.

After the family placed Kulot’s coffin in the hearse, the vehicle, the police car escorts, and the rest of the funeral convoy sped through traffic amid the blare of sirens.

Kulot’s parents and siblings were all placed in one police van. A convoy of reporters also followed hurriedly.

Heavily armed police officers kept close watch on Kulot’s parents.

Wearing identical white shirts and black pants, Kulot’s brothers concealed their faces in masks, as they try to avoid reporters’ cameras.

Kulot’s youngest brother and classmate, Eduardo Jr, covered his head with an oversized towel.

As the priest recited the final blessings, Eduardo Jr broke down in tears. Kulot’s brother Royette was carrying his baby, as he tried to console his wife Grace

One by one, family members and friends, as well as the officiating priest, sprinkled holy water on Kulot’s coffin. A gaggle of reporters surrounded the family.

Police claimed the DNA test conducted on Kulot and his parents didn’t match [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

As Kulot’s family bid their final goodbyes at the cemetery, police and five civilian volunteers of a pro-government anti-crime group, took aside again his parents, and handed them Kulot’s two photos earlier placed in the coffin.

Whispered remarks were exchanged, before Kulot’s father, Eduardo Sr, said in Filipino: “That’s it. Let’s go ahead.”

Family members then threw flower petals into Kulot’s grave, before a gravedigger covered it with cement.

There was no stone tablet to mark Kulot’s grave, so the grave-digger wrote in the fresh cement R DE GUZMAN.

Asked by broadcast reporters what he thought of the attempt by police to reclaim Kulot’s body, Eduardo Sr said: “That’s our son, and he is our flesh and blood. We made him. He is ours.”

Commenting on the police handling of Kulot’s case, the country’s leading newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, did not mince words in a comment: The country’s law enforcers “acted dishonourably” towards Kulot’s family, and “denied” the victim “a dignified burial by continuing to question his identity”.

Since Kulot’s burial, prosecutors have charged two police officers in Caloocan and the taxi driver for double murder.

Prosecutors said they included Bagcal, the taxi driver, as an accessory to the murder because of his conflicting testimonies to police, media and government attorneys.

Duterte has also ordered the removal and retraining of all Caloocan police force, and has decided to pull out the police as the main agency in the anti-drug war.

Two police officers and a taxi driver were charged with double murder over the deaths of Carl and Kulot [Ezra Acayan/Al Jazeera]

But the killings have not stopped.

In one incident in late October, a pregnant 15-year-old and her unborn baby were killed in what police said was an “armed encounter” that targeted the girl’s boyfriend.

In another incident on November 14, a 17-year old senior high school student at the University of Makati in Manila was shot and killed by unidentified assailants, just as Duterte was hosting a summit of Asian and world leaders in Manila.

On the same day, it was also reported that a fire mysteriously hit the Caloocan police station, destroying parts of the first floor of the building, where case files and evidence were kept.

“The killings are still happening, but the accountability of those who were ordered to kill has not been made possible,” Wilnor Papa, an Amnesty International spokesman, said in Manila.

The appeal of Amnesty and other human rights groups to visiting world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, to publicly confront Duterte about the killings also fell on deaf ears.

In Anak Pawi, Joven Tare, the neighbourhood’s fish vendor, was back in the street with fresh catch to sell.

With a family to feed, there was no stopping his business, despite the death of his assistant, Kulot.

He recalled how Kulot was always eager to help, even though he often needed instruction what to do next.

“By this time Kulot would have been busy helping me haul the fish and other seafood from the icebox,” he told Al Jazeera, while slicing a piece of milkfish for a customer.

Three others were milling around waiting for their turn to buy.

“But Kulot is gone now.”

WATCH: Philippine police ‘dumping bodies’ of drug war victims (2:39)



Ted Regencia


Image result for duterte, dela rosa, together, photos

President Rodrigo Duterte and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa. PhilStar photo

Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal

Philippines, US agree to boost bilateral ties in human rights, other areas

December 2, 2017
On Sunday, President Rodrigo Duterte said US President Donald Trump . The STAR/Krizjohn Rosales 

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines and the United States have reaffirmed their commitment in various areas, including human rights, which had been a sore point in the two countries’ ties.

“The U.S. and Philippine delegations emphasized the importance of the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms,” read a joint press statement issued following the two nations’ seventh Bilateral Strategic Dialogue from Nov. 30 to Dec. 1, 2017 held in Washington.

“The United States and the Philippines reaffirmed the importance of regular high-level consultations,” the statement also said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is facing strong criticisms for his brutal drug war, which has taken the lives of thousands of suspected small-time drug dealers, most of whom are from the urban poor.

The maverick Duterte earlier sparked diplomatic alarm for announcing Manila’s “separation” from its century-old alliance with Washington after former US President Barack Obama denounced the deadly crackdown.

He also sought to realign his country’s diplomatic and military alliance toward China and Russia, Washington’s strategic rivals.

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Ties between the two countries’ later improved upon US President Donald Trump’s election victory. In a telephone conversation last April, Trump had told his Philippine counterpart he was doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

RELATED: Resuming rebuke of Obama, Duterte calls him ‘black, arrogant’ | Duterte: No feud with US, only with some of its officials

Ahead of the two firebrand leader’s meeting in November, several US lawmakers had urged Trump to confront Duterte about the mounting fatalities in Manila’s drug war.

But according to Malacañang, Trump—in a dramatic turnaround from past practice by American presidents to press foreign leaders about allegations of human rights violations—avoided the sensitive topic.

Meanwhile, the White House said human rights “briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ flight against illegal drugs,” a stark contrast to the Palace’s statement.

Other areas

Aside from human rights, senior officials from Manila and Washington also discussed a wide variety of issues of mutual interest, with both sides reaffirming their partnership in maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

They also tackled how the two countries can deepen ties in cybersecurity, countering transnational drug trafficking and terrorism, improving drug prevention and treatment services, as well as combating wildlife trafficking and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

In terms of boosting extensive economic relationship between the two countries, representatives from the US and the Philippines noted the “substantive discussions” on cooperating in areas such as science and technology, agriculture and fisheries, and health and environment.

They likewise welcomed the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement discussions held on November 29, and “look forward to more robust discussions on ways to expand free, fair and reciprocal bilateral trade, including through exploring a potential Free Trade Agreement.”

Both countries also highlighted regional security challenges, particularly North Korea’s “unlawful ballistic missile and nuclear programs” and the South China Sea dispute.

At length, the US welcomed the Philippines’ offer to host the next Bilateral Strategic Dialogue in Manila in 2018.

Thousands stage rallies for and against Philippines’ Duterte’s ‘revolutionary government’

December 1, 2017
Thousands of supporters and critics of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte staged rallies on Thursday for and against his threat to declare a “revolutionary government”, which has fuelled fears of a looming dictatorship.


Duterte warned last month he is prepared to establish a “revolutionary government” to fend off alleged efforts to oust him. He railed against the press, European lawmakers and other critics of his drug war, which has left thousands dead and led rights groups to warn of a crime against humanity.

Duterte, who has courted Beijing while loosening his nation’s alliance with Washington, also alleged the US Central Intelligence Agency was part of a plot to destabilise him, and warned he would jail all of his opponents as well as the communist leaders.

Duterte’s critics fear the 72-year-old, who has repeatedly threatened to impose martial law, is intent on dragging the country back into dictatorship and allow himself more freedom in prosecuting his drug war.

Under his centrepiece anti-drug campaign, police have said they have killed almost 4,000 “drug personalities” but human rights activists charge that thousands more have been killed by vigilantes and rogue policemen.

On Thursday Pro-Duterte and anti-Duterte protesters, each rally numbering more than 2,000, gathered in front of the presidential palace in Manila with riot police separating them.

Both groups were largely garbed in red – the traditional Filipino colour for revolutionary movements.

The Duterte supporters waved banners saying ‘We support revolutionary government’, while the other side carried signs saying ‘Fight the Duterte dictatorship’.

The pro-Duterte crowd was allowed to stage their rally in peace, but riot police used fire hoses to drive back the anti-Duterte protesters as they tried to move closer to the palace.

The rallies were staged on a holiday honouring the 154th birth anniversary of Filipino revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio, with the Philippine leader’s critics burning a giant effigy of him while chanting “Down with Duterte!”

Duterte was elected last year largely on an incendiary law-and-order platform in which he promised to eradicate illegal drugs in society by killing 100,000 people.

He has repeatedly expressed impatience with the country’s current laws and constitution, saying they impede progress and do not allow him to fully crack down on crime and corruption.

While surveys show he retains wide popularity, opposition to Duterte has been growing in the face of increasing charges of human rights abuses being carried out under his rule.



'REVGOV'. Pro-Duterte demonstrators gather in Mendiola, Manila on November 30, 2017 calling for the establishment of a revolutionary government. All photos by Angie de Silva/Rappler

IN PHOTOS: Mendiola turns red for Duterte’s revolutionary government

President Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters come mostly clad in uniform red shirts, carrying professionally-designed banners, and supplied with food by vans bearing Duterte’s Kitchen logos

Published 10:30 PM, November 30, 2017
Updated 11:13 AM, December 01, 2017

MANILA, Philippines – Mendiola turned red on Bonifacio Day, November 30, as demonstrators surrounded the iconic peace arch to “demand” President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a revolutionary government to address the country’s ills.

The President’s supporters started arriving as early as 9 am for a program that would begin at 4 pm yet. They said they were part of a pro-Duterte coalition called Network Revolution. They came mostly clad in uniform red shirts, carrying professionally-designed tarpaulins and banners, and supplied with food by vans bearing “Duterte’s Kitchen” logos.

In their waiting time, they practiced their chants, but a midday downpour forced them to take cover and halt their warm-up. When the sky cleared, they continued calling for the revocation of the 1987 Constitution. In their rally proper later, they “granted” Duterte sole powers to write new Constitution.

By police estimates, the crowd stood at 1,000 at around 9:30 am, and peaked at 5,000 by around 6 pm. (READ: Can Duterte declare a revolutionary gov’t? Here’s what you need to know)

Here are photos from the rally, taken by Angie de Silva for Rappler:

Philippine Director of National Police Takes Heat From Philippine DEA Chief — “Give me the basis and [crime] statistics to prove those claims,” PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa told

November 29, 2017
PDEA director general Aaron Aquino said it was wrong for PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa to conclude that criminality is on the rise just because they are no longer involved in the fight against drugs. PNP-PIO, File

MANILA, Philippines — The head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has questioned the claim of his counterpart in the Philippine National Police that the number of rape-slay cases and other crimes increased when the PNP was pulled out of the war against illegal drugs.

PDEA director general Aaron Aquino said it was wrong for PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa to conclude that criminality is on the rise just because they are no longer involved in the fight against drugs.

Aquino said Dela Rosa has no one else to blame if there is a rise in rape-slay cases as it falls within PNP’s anti-criminality responsibilities, even if they are out of the war on drugs.

“It is their responsibility. Let us be clear that anti-criminality is their job, it is not ours. If there was an increase in the supply and demand on illegal drugs, that’s our problem, but if there was an increase in crime like rape, it is not our problem,” Aquino said on Monday.

Dela Rosa earlier this month expressed alarm over the increase of rape-slay cases, which occurred after the PNP was taken out of the war on illegal drugs.

Dela Rosa cited the case of 22-year-old Mabel Cama, a bank employee who was reportedly raped, killed and her body set on fire in Pasig City.

The PNP was pulled out of the drug war amid allegations of abuse and extrajudicial killings in their anti-illegal drug operations.

President Duterte directed the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Customs, Philippine Postal Corp. and other agencies to refrain from spearheading drug operations to avoid conflict in an order dated Oct. 10.

Dela Rosa claimed the people involved in the killings are high on drugs, an allegation which Aquino was quick to refute.

“What was their basis for that? If there is rape, the offender was high on drugs? Give me the basis and statistics to prove those claims,” Aquino said.

Aquino added that while he wished for the PNP to return to the campaign against drugs, this does not mean that there will no longer be rape cases, as evidenced by their combined performance before the order was issued.

“Was the number of rape cases reduced when the PNP and PDEA jointly led the war on drugs?” Aquino remarked.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said they monitored fewer incidents of killings when the PDEA took over the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.

“We have noticed that when the campaign was transferred to PDEA, while (the killings) did not stop, the number of deaths has decreased,” CHR Chairman Chito Gascon said.

“We are hoping that with the return of the police in the operations against drugs, they will follow operational procedures on use of force and hopefully the number of deaths will not increase,” he added.

Gascon made the statement in reaction to Duterte’s directive for the PNP to retake the lead in the war on drugs from PDEA.

Gascon urged law enforcement agencies to ensure that they follow operational procedures, particularly the guidelines on the use of force.

Official figures on the number of deaths with PDEA leading the drug war have yet to be released.

Gascon, however, noted the stark contrast during the time of the PNP when thousands died in police operations and in the hands of suspected vigilantes.

Gascon said CHR is ready to monitor the return of the PNP in the war against illegal drugs, saying they will call out irregularities.

“We assure the public that we in the CHR are ready to communicate with law enforcement agencies should they need to be reminded of their (human rights obligations) as mandated by the law,” he said.

Gascon said they are also ready to seek the assistance of the Office of the Ombudsman should the Department of Justice fail to hold to account those responsible for the killings. – Janvic Mateo

Journalists call out Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa for his “utterly asinine and potentially dangerous” remarks against news agency Reuters

November 29, 2017
On Tuesday, dela Rosa insinuated that drugs lords could be behind the release of a Reuters special report on the alleged police killing of three men in Tondo, Manila last October. PNP photo

MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on Wednesday hit Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa for his “utterly asinine and potentially dangerous” remarks against news agency Reuters.

“At the very least, he owes the men and women of Reuters, particularly writers Clare Baldwin and Andrew R.C. Marshall, an apology and a pledge to ensure their safety from the possible consequences of his irrational and irresponsible utterances,” NUJP said in a statement.

The group also criticized dela Rosa for telling media outlets how they should report the news and for reacting without reading the Reuters report.

“It is truly alarming that a man whose job is supposed to be governed by strict rules of evidence has many times shown a propensity for shooting from the lip, this time pillorying a news organization for a report he has not even read yet while glossing over the reason for the report— the existence of possible murderers and sundry lawbreakers—within the service he leads,” it said.

NUJP added: “Alas for you, Mr. Dela Rosa, the media have faced worse dangers than loose-lipped cops who choose to blame their shortcomings on others.”

On Tuesday, dela Rosa insinuated that drugs lords could be behind the release of a Reuters special report on the alleged police killing of three men in Tondo, Manila last October.

“Tina-timing nila. Saka nila nilalabas ‘yung mga ganon, damaging reports about the PNP kung kailan tayo babalik. Ibig sabihin, ‘yung mga kalaban natin, ayaw talaga tayong pabalikin sa war on drugs,” he said.

Dela Rosa also told Reuters: “What I can tell Reuters is that if you want the PNP to look bad, you can do it. You can really do it […] If you want to present a very objective presentation, you can also do it. If you want to be biased in our favor, you can also do it. So they have a choice.”

On November 27, Reuters released an investigative report detailing an alleged drug operation carried out by members of the Manila police in Barangay 19 in Manila.

Reuters released video footage from four security cameras showing several police men in the morning of October 11, 2017—a day after Duterte released a memo stripping the police of control over the drug war.

The Manila Police District Superintendent said an “in-depth” probe will be launched regarding the matter.

READPalace ‘authenticating’ video in Reuters report on drug war


Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal