Philippines: 21 alleged drug offenders killed in single day

MANILA: Simultaneous anti-drug operations in a northern province have left 21 alleged drug offenders dead, police said Tuesday. They called it the highest death toll in a single day since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his ‘war on drugs’ in July last year.

Senior Superintendent Romeo M. Caramat Jr. said operations in various parts of Bulacan province in the past 24 hours left 21 dead and 64 others arrested. Police said the suspects had offered armed resistance against arresting officers.

Caramat said police seized 21 firearms and more than 100 grams of methamphetamine, more popularly known in the Philippines as shabu, worth 500,000 pesos ($9,800). Cash and assorted drug paraphernalia were also recovered.

Police records show since the crackdown started, 3,264 alleged drug offenders have been killed in gunbattles with law enforcers. More than 2,000 others died in drug-related homicides, including attacks by motorcycle-riding masked gunmen and other assaults.

Human rights groups report a higher toll and demand an independent investigation into Duterte’s possible role in the violence.