An anti-crime and anti-corruption advocacy group in the Philippines has expressed concern over the rising number of drug suspects killed in police operations after President-elect Rodrigo Duterte won the May 9 election.
A board member and spokesman for Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption described the "substantial" number of slain suspects as “alarming”, GMA News reported Tuesday.
"They [police] seem to want to cut off the [drug] trail... It's saddening ... What we want to really know is the head [of the syndicate]... from local government units to the law enforcers," Arsenio Evangelista told radio station dzBB.
Evangelista stressed that officers need to keep suspects alive, rather that killing lower ranked figures in networks, in order to gather information from them about the syndicates and their leaders.
On Monday, the Philstar newspaper reported that at least 42 drug suspects had been killed since the May 9 election, which Duterte - who served as southern Davao City’s mayor for seven terms - won on a crime-fighting campaign.
After his victory, Duterte vowed to work toward re-imposing the death penalty and offered a bounty to police and military officers who capture drug dealers “dead or alive”.
The newspaper cited national police spokesman, Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, as saying that around half the recorded deaths in police anti-drug operations since the beginning of this year took place after the election.
In Duterte's 22 years as mayor of Davao, the city transformed from a crime-ridden hovel to a peaceful and investment-friendly city, where he imposed bans on public smoking, and the selling of alcohol and the operation of entertainment spots past midnight.