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

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

Interactive Map Philippines Unknown Police killings

This story was first published on August 25. Last updated on December 13.

*Police records show 5,882 people were killed across the country since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30. Of that number 2,041 drug suspects were killed during police operations from July 1 to December 6, while another 3,841 were killed by unknown gunmen from July 1 to November 30, according to a local website. Among the latest fatalities was a seven-year old child on the island of Cebu who was hit by a stray bullet on December 3, while unknown gunmen were chasing a teenage boy accused of selling drugs.  

*Based on other sources collected by Al Jazeera, there have been an estimated 5,946 deaths. The number does not include cases still to be reported by police or news outlets in the provinces after December 6.  

*Al Jazeera has gathered the information of 1,485 people who were killed and the cause of their deaths.

On December 3, seven-year-old San Nino Batucan was watching television inside his family’s home in the province of Cebu when he was hit by a stray bullet in the stomach. 

Unknown gunmen were reportedly chasing a suspected teenage drug dealer in their village when they fired their guns, hitting the boy.

San Nino died in the hospital, becoming one of the latest innocent victims in the ongoing drug war.

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

In August, five-year-old Danica May was killed after a bullet meant for her grandfather hit her in the head. Her grandfather, Maximo Garcia, survived by fleeing to the back of the house.

Garcia’s wife said her husband, who had suffered a stroke three years ago, has never been involved in illegal drugs, although he was reportedly included on the government anti-drug watch list.

As of December 13, the number of deaths linked to the anti-illegal drugs campaign has hit 5,946, according to an Al Jazeera analysis of police data and news reports in the Philippines.

Among the recent fatalities were father and son Aliton Dy and Nash Patrick Daniel who were accused of being drug dealers. According to reports they were killed on December 8 by unknown gunmen.

In November, Jay Lato and his two brothers Jake and Jave were killed on the island of Cebu by unknown gunmen. The attackers left cardboard signs next to the bodies of the victims saying, “Family of drug dealers. Don’t emulate.”

In October, Zenaida Luz, an anti-drug war advocate and community volunteer, was killed by unknown gunmen on the island of Mindoro. Luz’ attackers were later identified as police officers, prompting accusations that the government is sanctioning extra-judicial killings and tolerating police abuses.  

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

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