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Killing season


The figures behind ‘The Punisher’s’ bloody war on drugs


“If I become president, it would be bloody because we’ll order the killing of all criminals, drug addicts and drug lords.”


Even before President Rodrigo Duterte won the national elections by a landslide last May 9, the tough-talking mayor of Davao City has been open about his plans for a ‘bloody’ presidency.


During the campaign season, Duterte, who has earned the moniker ‘The Punisher,’ vowed to eradicate criminality within three to six months in office. And if he fails? He has said he plans to resign.


A few weeks before Duterte was formally declared as the new President of the Philippines, a wave of drug-related killings swept the nation. And now, the body count continues on its steep incline.


Here’s a look at the numbers behind the country’s unprecedented war on drugs.




According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s The Kill List, “an attempt to document the names and other particulars of the casualties of the administration’s war on crime,” as of 12 p.m. of July 18, 2016, a total of 312 drug-related killings have been reported since May 10, the day after the elections.


The Philippine Daily Inquirer refers to the period of May 10 to June 29 as the ‘post-election transition period.’


Policemen were responsible for most of the 312 deaths, often claiming that the victims attempted to snatch away their guns (or engaged in a shootout), while the rest were killed by unidentified vigilantes.




Since June 30 (Duterte’s inauguration) up to 12 p.m. of July 18, there have been 265 drug-related deaths.


Reports of corpses found by the side of busy streets—apparent victims of summary executions— disturbingly popped up on a daily basis. Most victims bore a cardboard sign saying things like “Huwag tularan; drug pusher ako” (Don’t emulate, I am a drug pusher).


Some bodies were found tightly bound inside a black garbage bag. Perhaps a statement on how the killers think about their lives: Nothing but garbage.




Out of the 312 recorded killings, 53 victims have yet to be identified.


Now, here’s the thing: Why are some of them even unidentified? It is safe to say that those who are gunned down (one killing was even caught on CCTV in broad daylight) are but small-time drug pushers. Peddlers of illegal substances who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.


In an ANC interview, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Commissioner Robert Cadiz said, “It has largely been characterized by extrajudicial killings, almost blatant disregard for the rule of law, due process of law. It’s turning out to be not a credible campaign because it’s been largely targeting the small people… No big-time drug lords have been really arrested.”




Speaking of small-time drug pushers, they must get their supply somewhere. Here’s where drug lords come in.


On July 8, before he ended his first week as Commander-in-chief, Duterte named the three top drug lords in the Philippines.


Duterte fearlessly named Chinese nationals Wu Tuan and Peter Lim as ‘Level 5’ drug lords, the creme de la creme of big-time drug lords.


According to newly appointed Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre III, Tuan and Lim are members of the notorious Chinese Triad. Tuan, aka Peter Co, is in charge of Luzon operations, while Lim, aka Jaguar, handles Visayas.


The third drug lord is current New Bilibid Prison inmate Herbert Colangco. You may have heard of him as the guy who recorded a music album and a music video while he was incarcerated. Jails: It’s more fun in the Philippines.




Two days before Duterte showed his chart featuring the hierarchy of drug syndicates in the country, Duterte was the guest speaker for the 69th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force. On that day, he named five senior Philippine National Police (PNP) officials who are involved in illegal drugs.


Duterte named retired PC Supt. Vicente Loot, former Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo, former Region 6 Director Bernardo Diaz, former NCRPO Director Joel Pagdilao, and former QCPD Director Edgardo Tinio. Diaz, Pagdilao, and Tinio are still in active service.


“At this time, I order them relieved from their assignments and report to the director general. I would like to talk to them but certainly I would expect the police commission to do their thing,” Duterte said in his speech after naming the officials. The five officials are said to be protectors and coddlers of drug lords, allowing the prevalence of drug syndicates in the country.




On July 15, one of the three named drug lords was brave enough to knock at Duterte’s door. Peter Lim, a Cebu-based businessman, spoke with the President himself in Davao in an effort to clear his name.


Lim declared his support for the President’s war on drugs, saying, “I’m with you all the way, Mr. President… I could clear up everything because my family is really in deep problem now in Cebu… In any way, I will help.”


Duterte was sympathetic in his response, he said, “We want to help you… help us clear you.”


According to Lim, he is willing to subject himself to an investigation, as advised by Duterte.




If you do the math, that’s more than four deaths every day between May 10 and July 18. More than four deaths everyday for 69 days. The scary part is that it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop any time soon.


At this rate, if this continues, it’s like we’re living in that movie The Purge.


Oh, and lest we forget…




The number of dead drug lords.