PNP Chief: Drug-related deaths only under 4,000, not 7,000

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa presented what he called the accurate breakdown of the number of deaths in the war on drugs.

In an interview on CNN Philippines' News Night, Dela Rosa debunked claims the campaign has resulted in 7,000 deaths.

Dela Rosa said out of the 6,011 "homicide cases" from July 1, 2016 to last March 24 that were investigated, only 1,398 deaths were drug-related. The rest included vigilante-style killings.

These deaths were previously classified by the police as DUI (deaths under investigation), but Dela Rosa now wants to categorize these as "homicide cases."

He said 828 deaths were not related to the drug campaign, while the police have yet to determine the motive behind 3,785 killings or 63 percent of cases.

Data for homicide cases are separate from the over 2,500 drug suspects killed during police operations.

Dela Rosa said they released the data to refute claims that 7,000 lives were lost in the drug war.

'We just want to disprove 'yung persistent and irritating claim by some sectors that there are 7,000 EJKs na pine-present nila hindi lang dito sa local community, pati sa international community. 7,000 EJK. We just want to disprove that allegation so the public will not be misled," he said.

Dela Rosa said presenting what he called misleading data could be an attack against the government, and that drug lords could be behind the smear campaign.

"Bakit pilit nilang ina-attribute sa war on drugs yung killings na 'yan? Iba na ang motibo niyan. Gusto nilang masira yung war on drugs because the war on drugs is the face of the Duterte administration," he said.

[Translation: Why do they keep on attributing the killings to the war on drugs? There is a different motive. They want to ruin the war on drugs because it is the face of the Duterte administration.]

Dela Rosa said the term "extrajudicial killing" (EJK) came from the media that make it appear the killings are state-sponsored.

On the other hand, some members of the media told Dela Rosa they asked the police for data but they were always given limited figures. The PNP chief replied, "Huwag na tayo mag fingerpointing kung kaninong mali 'yun, basta we are here to rectify the error."

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) — a critic of the drug war — said they never claimed the drug killings were state-sponsored.

"We never said it was state-sponsored. What we know is there are vigilante killings done during police operations," CHR Commissioner Gwendolyn Gana said in a forum on the effects of EJK to women and children on Monday.

She added EJK continues despite Dela Rosa's promise of a less bloody revival of the drug war.

PNP investigating rogue police

Dela Rosa also said rogue police officers allegedly involved in drug-related crimes or alleged EJK are under investigation and will be punished accordingly.

According to the PNP, 76 officers were charged with drug use, drug pushing, and for protecting drug lords, while 13 police officers were charged with drug-related killings.

CNN Philippines correspondent Ivy Saunar contributed to this report.

(Updated to include PNP Chief dela Rosa's interview on CNN Philippines' News Night)