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To a lot of people, 2016 turned out to be a bloody year specifically due to the war waged by government forces against illegal drugs.
Last July, President Duterte’s order was for the police to launch a massive crackdown against drugs conducted through raids, buy-bust operations and other police activities in fulfillment of his campaign promise.
More than 2,000 drug traders across the country who reportedly resisted arrest and engaged the cops in gun battles perished. Over 42,000 traffickers have been apprehended in nearly 40,000 anti-drug operations.
The police have visited more than five million houses of suspected drug users and dealers in their Oplan Tokhang operations. This has triggered the surrender of 970,000 men and women who admitted involvement in drugs. Over 74,000 of this number confessed to their connection in the drug trade.
There has been a significant reduction in the country’s crime volume. Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the country is now safer from theft, carnapping, robbery, rape and physical injury.
Andanar proudly announced the figures released by the Philippine National Police (PNP) showing that the crime volume decreased from 81,064 in 2015 to 55,391 in the period from July to November of 2016.
Still, there was an increase in the number of murder cases which police attributed to members of drug syndicates eliminating one another and making it appear to be the handiwork of the police or vigilantes.
From 3,950 cases from July to November of last year to this year’s 5,970, murders have seen an increase of 51.14 percent. This is no laughing matter. Vigilantes are having a heyday eliminating their targets even if innocent children end up as collateral damage in the process.
To top it off, a number of legitimate police operations in which the suspects supposedly put up a fight are getting to look like a rubout.
The helpless families of the deceased can only drown in their tears, knowing they have no one to turn to in times of need during this bloody period.
No wonder, even renowned singer James Taylor canceled his concert in the Philippines to make a stand. He said the punishment and summary executions of suspected drug offenders without judicial process are unacceptable to anyone who loves the rule of law.
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A reminder to everyone: Let’s all stay safe in welcoming 2017 by staying away from firecrackers. Happy New Year!
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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email email@example.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/ (Robert B. Roque, Jr.)