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Palace dodges report on alleged Tokhang killing cover-ups

Updated

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang has refused to comment on a Reuters report saying that the police had used hospitals to hide drug war killings.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, since the Philippine National Police (PNP) had already responded to the report, the Palace would defer to the PNP answer.

This picture taken on October 29, 2016 shows police officers investigating a crime scene where two alleged drug dealers were gunned down by unidentified men in Manila. (AFP PHOTO / Noel Celis / MANILA BULLETIN)

This picture taken on October 29, 2016 shows police officers investigating a crime scene where two alleged drug dealers were gunned down by unidentified men in Manila.
(AFP Photo / Noel Celis / Manila Bulletin)

Operational procedure

Dela Rosa, on Friday, said over ANC that police were not medically qualified to determine whether a victim was dead or alive and sent victims to hospital as part of operational procedure.

He added that police carrying out anti-drugs operations had a duty to save lives, even when encountering violent resistance.

“We will not make any comments regarding that matter. We will defer to the answer of General Bato po,” Abella said, referring to PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, during the Mindanao Hour press briefing on Saturday.

Based on the Reuters report published on June 29, 2017, residents of Barangay Old Balara in Quezon City said they witnessed the police dragging seven drug war casualties “down the alley like pigs” and then throwing them into a truck and taking them to a  hospital in what a police report said was a bid to save their lives.

“What do you want, we let the wounded die? You don’t want us to rescue his life?” Dela Rosa said over ANC.

“An analysis of crime data from two of Metro Manila’s five police districts and interviews with doctors, law enforcement officials and victims’ families point to one answer: Police were sending corpses to hospitals to destroy evidence at crime scenes and hide the fact that they were executing drug suspects,” Reuters said in its report.

Reuters further said that there were hundreds of cases similar to that of Old Balara during the first eight months of the drug war.

Under the government’s #RealNumbersPH campaign, the PNP reported that a total of 3,200 drug personalities were killed in 63,926 anti-drug operations conducted as of June 20, 2017.

The PNP also reported that a total 86,933 drug personalities have been arrested while 1,308,078 surrenderers were facilitated.

Similar cases

The news agency, quoting an anonymous police commander in Manila, said in late 2016, police began “sending victims to hospitals to avoid crime scene investigations and media attention that might show they were executing drug suspects.”

The Manila commander said police depended on emergency room doctors being too focused on the patients to care about why they were shot.

“The doctors aren’t asking any questions. They only record it: DOA (dead on arrival),” the police commander told Reuters.

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