MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 12:17 p.m.) At least 18 more persons were reported killed overnight in the Camanava area (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela) of Metro Manila even as Senator Francis Pangilinan decried the 57 deaths in Bulacan and Manila, mostly in police operation, over the past two days.
In Manila at least five more killings happened while in Quezon City a man his partner acknowledged was a “runner” for drug peddlers was gunned down inside his home in Payatas.
Caloocan accounted for the most deaths, 11, from 5 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, according to a tally by News5:
CALOOCAN – 11
Brgy. 120 – 3
Brgy. 13 – 1
Bagong Silang -1
Brgy. 176 PH7 -1
Phase 6- 1
Brgy. Daangbakal -1
Brgy. Tala – 1
Pamasawata – 1
MALABON – 2
Tinajeros – 1
Longos – 1
NAVOTAS – 2
Brgy. NBBN R10 -1
Brgy. San Jose – 1
VALENZUELA – 3
Maysan – 1
Canumay East – 1
Arkong Bato – 1
The recent killings, which included that of 17-year old senior high school student Kian Loyd delos Santos in Manila, prompted Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party, to ask: “Kahit sino na lang kakaladkarin ng pulis para umabot sa quota? Makuha ang reward money (Are the police trying to meet a quota? Trying to earn the reward money)?”
Delos Santos’ death, in particular, has stirred public outrage over the continuing bloodshed in the government’s war on drugs.
Manila police claim Delos Santos shot it out with operatives but witnesses and closed circuit television footage have since tended to belie that account, showing the young man being dragged away before he was found dead.
Pangilinan decried the “killing right and left of the poor and defenseless while tons of shabu slip through the BoC (Bureau of Customs),” referring to the smuggling of P6.4 billion worth of the illegal drug that Congress is now investigating.
He urged resistance to the “massacre of the poor” and for drugs to be treated not only as a police but also a health and economic problem.
In Manila, a CCTV camera captured the attack along A. Rivera Street in Tondo that left businessman Willie Liu dead. Although he too was fired on by the killer, Liu’s business partner, Nikko Go, managed to escape unscathed.
The footage showed the SUV parking and, as Liu and Go got down, the gunman drive up on motorcycle and open fire. After felling Liu, the killer got off his motorcycle and shot at Go, who managed to run to safety.
In Ermita, a suspected snatcher supposedly opened fire on police who were stopping the motorcycle he was riding on because the driver had no helmet.
Senior Inspector Randy Veran of the Lawton police precinct said a woman had reported that her mobile phone had been snatched as she waited for a ride. When precinct personnel flagged down the motorcycle, the driver ignored them, triggering a chase during which the alleged snatcher, identified only as John Rey, opened fire.
A gun and two sachets of shabu were recovered from him, police said.
In Sampaloc, alleged pusher Eric Kailaw died on Paltok Street in a supposed shootout around 11 p.m. with police who had gotten wind of a drug deal in the area.
Two more drug suspects were killed in a buy-bust operation on Hermosa Street, Tondo.
In Payatas, Dannyfel Balad, 41, was shot dead inside his home on Daisy Street.
His partner, Rowena Pilar, said they were sleeping when the gunmen kicked in their door. In fear, Rowena said they hid in the toilet with their 10-year old child.
The suspects asked who Balad was and then shot him six times.
A team of Reuters journalists went to five communities in Manila on Thursday night, where four men died in shootouts with undercover police in drug ‘buy-bust’ or sting operations.
Police prevented the journalists from getting near the scene in the northwestern neighborhood of Caloocan but they saw three body bags being taken from a maze of narrow alleys. Elsewhere in Caloocan, they saw the corpse of a man slumped on an iron fence at the back of a mini-bus terminal.
Another man was killed near the Manila post office building, four died in hospitals in the northern area of Malabon and another died on the spot near a former garbage dump in the sprawling Quezon City district.
Three others were killed elsewhere on Thursday night, according to a radio report, including a man who was shot by masked men on a motorcycle in the eastern area of Marikina City.
Call for protest
“The killing spree must stop even as we also demand a stop to the proliferation of illegal drugs,” Renato Reyes, secretary-general of the left-wing Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said.
“A long-term and thorough solution is necessary. A fascist solution is doomed to fail.”
Reyes urged Filipinos to join a protest organized by a group of artists in Quezon City, saying in a flyer on social media: “Let us condemn the recent spike in the killings under the Duterte regime”.
Police say there has been no instruction from higher authorities to step up their anti-drug operations and they are only doing their job.
“The president did not instruct me to kill and kill,” national police chief Ronald dela Rosa said on Thursday. “I also don’t have any instructions to my men to kill and kill. But the instruction coming from the president is very clear that our war on drugs is unrelenting. Those who were killed fought back.”
Critics maintain that members of the Philippine National Police PNP are executing suspects and say it is likely they have a hand in thousands of unsolved murders of drug users by mysterious vigilantes. The PNP and government reject that.
Although the violence has been criticized by much of the international community, Filipinos largely support the campaign and domestic opposition to it has been muted. (with reports from Reuters | Jennylyn Calimon and Ivy Gale Bernardo, News5)