Manila, Aug 22 (IANS) At least 1,779 persons have been killed in the Philippine’s war on illicit drugs since July 1 this year, authorities said on Monday.
A total of 712 were killed in ongoing police operations while 1,067 died in “vigilante-type” killings, Xinhua news agency quoted police as saying.
The police’s “stand against extrajudicial killings is uncompromising”, a police official said in a statement.
“If any cop is found violating the law of self-defence, he will be investigated, prosecuted and accordingly punished,” he said.
“On the speculation of vigilante killings, the police does not and will never condone vigilante killings,” he added.
“I have previously mentioned that these killings are perpetrated by various syndicate groups involved in illegal drugs.”
The official vowed to apply the “full force of the law against those responsible for these killings outside of police operations”.
The increasing number of killings in the administration’s war against drugs has caught the attention of the UN and other international human rights groups.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, however, remains unfazed by the growing criticism and repeatedly says that the fight against drugs will be relentless and will be sustained.
“I am willing to answer all (my critics). I assume full responsibility for what happened because I was the one who ordered it,” Duterte told the media in Davao City on Sunday.
“My instructions at the very first day of my term were that: go out and hunt for these criminals. Arrest them if they surrender peacefully but if they put up a violent stunt then you just have to kill them because I do not want people in government dying needlessly for doing his work when you were then leaving behind a family and children,” he said.
So far, Duterte said 600,000 drug users and pushers have “surrendered” and taken the drug test since his administration launched the campaign after he took over the presidency on June 30 this year.