Rodrigo Duterte

Philippines: Who's liable for the mounting death toll?

President Rodrigo Duterte defends law enforcers from allegations of human rights abuses during police operations.

Ted Regencia, Mohsin Ali | | Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines, Asia Pacific, Interactive

*This story was first published on August 25. As of August 31, police records show 929 drug suspects have been killed in government operations, while 1,507 have been killed by unknown attackers, and 10 police officers killed during drugs operations. That brings the total fatalities to at least 2,446. A man and his four-year-old daughter was also killed on Thursday, bringing the number up to 2,448.

*Al Jazeera has gathered the information of 887 fatalities.  

On August 23, five-year-old Danica May was having lunch with her family in Dagupan City, north of the Philippine capital Manila, when a gunman came to their house looking for her grandfather, Maximo Garcia.

Three days earlier, Garcia was told he was on a government drug watch list, prompting him to surrender to police. Garcia's wife said her husband, who suffered a stroke three years ago, has never been involved in illegal drugs.    

But the unknown attacker opened fire as soon as he spotted Garcia, hitting him in the stomach, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer report. He survived by fleeing to the back of the house. One of the stray bullets hit Danica May in the head. She died in hospital, making her the second youngest victim in the country's anti-illegal drugs war. 

On Thursday, September 1, a four-year-old girl was also killed in the Negros island, after she was supposedly used as "human shield" by her father, who was also killed during the police operation, according to the local television station GMA.   

As of August 31, the number of deaths linked to the anti-illegal drugs campaign has gone up to 2,446, Ronald dela Rosa, the Philippine police chief, said during a Congressional budget hearing. That includes 929 people killed in government operations, 1,507 killed by unknown attackers and 10 police officers killed during anti-illegal drugs operations. Including the two fatalities on Thursay, the number is now up to 2,448.   

Despite accusations of police abuse and human rights violations, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has defended them, saying "the accusation itself is stupid".

An Al Jazeera English investigation has gathered information of at least 887 people killed, based on news reports and public records.

Of that number, at least 499 people were reported to have been killed during police operations, while 388 others were killed by unknown attackers, as of August 25.

Sources: Al Jazeera, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Sun Star Newspaper, Philippine Star, GMA News TV, Rappler, ABS-CBN News, Abante Tonite


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