The Philippine National Police on Saturday expressed "serious doubts" over Ateneo Policy Center's figures showing more than 7,000 drug-related killings since the Duterte administration began in 2016.
"It is totally erroneous to record more than 7,000 homicide deaths, with all sorts of possible motives including family feuds, quarrels, land disputes, accidents, stray bullets, road rage, etc., directly as drug related incidents," PNP spokesman P/Col. Bernard Banac told GMA News Online.
The PNP official, however, clarified that their organization respect the opinion and result of the Ateneo think tank's studies, even he remained doubtful of the reliability of the study's sources of information.
Banac cited "Real Number Ph" figures showing only 5,281 deaths recorded in the government’s anti-drug operations for the period July 1, 2016 - February 28, 2019.
Real Number Ph is a project of the government's Presidential Communications Group
In its study, the Ateneo Policy Center said it now has information on 7,029 killings occurring from May 10, 2016 up to December 31, 2018.
Banac said it was inevitable for the PNP to be accused of alleged human rights violations because of the nature of the job of police officers, but he insisted the organization adheres to the rule of law, respect human rights, and value life.
"As any organization, we are not perfect. But this has not deterred us from intensifying internal cleansing to maintain discipline among our personnel and weed out from our ranks rogues, misfits and scalawags," he said.
Banac stressed that erring police personnel have not gone unpunished.
"Since 2016, a total of 8,440 personnel have already been disciplined for various offenses and illegal acts. Out of this number, 4,500 were suspended and 2,600 were dismissed from the service. Of those dismissed, 322 were found positive for use of illegal drugs and 119 either for coddling, protecting drug suspects or not attending court duties," he said.
Banac added that the PNP has already introduced improvements in its law enforcement operations, such as the use of body cameras; the shift to reduction of drug supply by going after high value targets and big drug syndicates; the emphasis on adherence to rule of law and respect for human rights; and, the intensified PNP internal cleansing. — with Ted Cordero/MDM, GMA News