This week’s operations follow a police raid in the southern city of Ozamiz more than two weeks ago, in which 15 people were killed, including the mayor. He was on a list of about 150 politicians, judges and police and military officials who were accused of involvement in the drug trade.
The mayor, Reynaldo Parojinog, was the third politician on Mr. Duterte’s list to have been killed, and the president has shown no signs of slowing his crackdown.
Chief Superintendent Oscar Albayalde, head of the police in the national capital region, said the high number of casualties was a result of the stepped-up operations against drugs.
“This only shows we are not relenting on our campaign,” Chief Albayalde said in an interview, adding that the violent week reflected the police carrying out their mandate.
Superintendent Margarejo said the fatalities resulted from a shootout.
“They fired at our policemen, and our law enforcers had no choice but to retaliate and defend themselves,” the superintendent said. No officers were hurt, he said.
He said 11 of Manila’s police stations took part in the operations, with only two failing to yield major accomplishments.
He said similar operations would continue as he warned Manila residents to stop their illegal activities or be caught or “neutralized.”
Mr. Duterte on Wednesday night praised the police for the raids and vowed that his government’s tough stance against drugs would continue.
He also blamed the proliferation of drugs for most of the country’s troubles.
“Those who died in Bulacan, 32, in a massive raid, that’s good,” Mr. Duterte said, referring to the first night of operations. “If we can kill another 32 every day, then maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”
The independent Commission on Human Rights, which has been tracking the high number of deaths under Mr. Duterte’s government, said it would carry out an investigation.
“To the best of our ability, we will conduct a fact-finding investigation of these incidents as we try to cope with the unprecedented scale and pace of killings resulting from the perpetuation of this administration’s so-called war on drugs,” said Chito Gascon, the leader of the commission.
He said Mr. Duterte’s vow to protect police officers accused of murder while on the job directly condoned “attacks on human rights defenders.”
“It exacerbates the climate of impunity that characterizes his administration,” he said.
Mr. Duterte said last week that 80 police officers and about 300 soldiers had also been killed since the crackdown began, but he lamented that local and international rights groups had so far chosen to focus on the deaths of the suspects.
He said that he had the police officers’ backs and that if they were charged in court, he would just pardon them.
“I have always told you that if you have to shoot, shoot them dead. And this is what the human rights idiots are trying to complain” about, he said, adding that officers should shoot suspects in the heart or the head.
“That’s the end of the problem,” Mr. Duterte said.
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