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Police kill 21 in Undas 2018 anti-drug operations

Rambo Talabong
Cops also arrest 981 drug suspects from October 31 to November 3

BLOOD IN UNDAS. Anti-drug cops kill 21 suspects during the 4-day Undas weekend. File photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Cops killed 21 drug suspects during the “4-day Undas holiday” from October 31 to November 3, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde announced in a press conference on Monday, November 5.

The killings occurred as the PNP conducted a total of 616 anti-drug operations. They also arrested 981 persons alleged to have possessed or carried a transaction involving illegal drugs.

The PNP has yet to release a breakdown of the death figure but all are already assumed by cops as the same: the suspects fought back (nanlaban), and cops had to retaliate in the line of duty.

The new count adds to the almost 5,000 drug suspects recorded by the government to have fought back and died in anti-narcotics busts since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office. Human rights groups have counted over 20,000, as they included killings that may have been inspired by the President’s so-called “war on drugs.”

Assistance during holiday. For the back-to-back holidays of remembrance when Filipinos flocked to cemeteries, the PNP set up around 4,400 assistance hubs manned by almost 23,000 cops.

Near and inside burial grounds, police confiscated 4 firearms, 28,595 bladed weapons, 615 gambling paraphernalia, 195 Karaoke machines, and various alcoholic drinks from 17,659 law and local ordinance violators.

Albayalde congratulated the ground commanders for the anti-drug and safety operations conducted during the holiday break. The top cop added that it was only the “dry run” for a bigger holiday break: Christmas.

“Under the same whole-of-government law enforcement and public safety framework, we are setting our sights ahead of the Yuletide season and making early preparations to maximize efficiency of planned actions,” Albayalde said. –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.