Duterte losing 2 policemen daily to drug war? Stats don’t say so

MANILA, Philippines – While visiting the wake of a slain policeman, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed he is losing two police or military personnel a day to his anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“I’m losing two policemen a day on the average. Itong mga pulis na namatay (These police die) in the line of duty, in the performance of duty, I go out of my way to visit them and give them a smart salute for the service of the country,” Duterte said on Wednesday, August 24.

He was at the time attending the wake of Police Inspector Mark Gil Garcia in Taytay, Rizal. Garcia was killed during a police operation against illegal drugs.

While police officers are definitely among the casualties of the drug war, is the police or military really losing as many as two personnel a day as Duterte claims? 

The statistics of the Philippine National Police (PNP) tell a different story. 

From July 1 to August 18, 9 police and 3 military personnel have died in anti-illegal drug operations, according to PNP figures presented by PNP Chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa during the recent Senate probe into the drug war.

So in total, 12 police or military personnel have died over the course of 49 days, translating to 0.24 police or military personnel killed daily during that time. 

Of course, it’s possible that more police or military have died since August 18. But for Duterte’s figures to be true, 98 police or military should have died in 6 days, or from August 19 to 24.

If two police or military have died every day since July 1 or the day after Duterte took his oath as president, there should be around 110 police or military casualties already.

In comparison to the 12 dead police and military personnel, 756 drug personalities have been killed from July 1 to August 22, according to the PNP. This equates to around 14 drug personalities killed daily over that time period. 

As for killings that occurred outside of anti-drug operations, the PNP says it is investigating 899 of these. The killings occurred from July 1 to August 15, equivalent to around 19 mysterious, drug-related deaths daily over 46 days.

The Duterte administration's drug war has been strongly criticized for supposedly circumventing the rights of drug suspects to due process and encouraging extrajudicial killings.

But the government insists it is not behind summary executions and that police only use deadly force when suspects fight back.

The PNP also says the drug war has helped lower the crime rate. – With reports from Bea Cupin/Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.