The number of killings and drug users have increased since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office last year, two Associate Justices observed during a hearing on Tuesday, December 5.
During this week’s third and final session of the oral arguments on petitions challenging the constitutionality of Duterte’s drug war, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio noted that the number of drug users have increased from 1.5 million in 2015 to 4.7 million in 2016.
Based on the data from the Philippine National Police (PNP)’s Command Memorandum Circular (CMC) 16-2016, which contains the provisions of “Project Double Barrel” or the anti-illegal drugs campaign, there were 1.5 million drug users prior to the Duterte administration.
Data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), however, showed that the number rose to 4.7 million in 2016, when Duterte assumed post and launched the campaign.
“So it actually increased during the term of President Duterte. Is that correct?” Carpio asked Solicitor General Jose Calida.
In response, Calida said the data “was not really accurate and was understated.”
During the hearing, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen also noted that there have been 4,000 deaths recorded since the implementation of the anti-illegal drugs campaign last year.
“There are thousands upon thousands of people who are killed either in police operations or found on the side of the road,” Leonen said.
He then asked the solicitor general, “Would you say we are now suffering a crime wave consisting of a lot of murders?
“I am not an expert on that your honor,” Calida replied.
“But with the 4,000 murders for a period of one year, don’t you think that this is something we should worry about, regardless of who these people are?” Leonen continued. “The police, of course, might be investigating them, but it worries, of course, that there is such a break in law and order.
Calida said there was a connection between the prevalence of drugs and index crimes.
Rights groups Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and Center for International Law (CenterLaw) headed by Aileen Almora and Sister Ma. Juanita Daño respectively had filed separate petitions seeking to nullify Duterte’s drug war.
In their petition, FLAG argued that the PNP’s CMC 16-2016 should be declared unconstitutional because it paves way for the police to kill suspects in guise of “neutralizing” them during operations.
FLAG also assailed the legality of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular 2017-112, which establishes a system of anonymous reporting of suspected criminals.
CenterLaw, on the other hand, filed the petition seeking the issuance of a writ of amparo to protect certain individuals and the residents of 26 barangays in San Andres Bukid, Manila, against the anti-illegal drug campaign.