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War on numbers: Philippines govt targets drug killing data

War on numbers: Philippines govt targets drug killing data

Reuters
MANILA
Facing a UN human rights investigation into its bloody war on drugs, the Philippines presented a new death toll on Thursday to counter much higher numbers given by critics.
But rights groups accused the government of using partial data to mislead and said that even the official figure of more than 5,500 police killings in drug operations was far too high and there must be accountability for every death.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has challenged activists’ death tolls of the three-year-old drug war that rise as high as 27,000.
Under the banner of #TheRealNumbersPH, officials told a news conference that 5,526 “drug personalities” had died in anti-drug operations between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2019. That was below a previous police figure of more than 6,700 dead.
“The Real Numbers are the validated figures,” Marie Rafael, a presidency official, told reporters. The drug war faces new scrutiny since the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution a week ago to investigate the killings. The government rejects accusations of systematic abuses including executions, planted evidence and falsified reports.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN human rights chief, said last month that even the official number would be “a matter of most serious concern for any country”. “Getting the real figure is very difficult,” said Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher for Human Rights Watch.
“Outside the police, there’s no one entity doing the tracking. There are NGOs that are trying but they can only do it based on media reports.” Some of the higher estimates are based on a 2017 official report on “Key Accomplishments” of Duterte’s administration that included 16,355 “homicide cases under investigation”.

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