10 Killed, at least 140 Arrested in Drug Raids Across Philippines

Mark Navales and Joseph Jubelag
General Santos, Philippines
171006-PH-mayor-1000 Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino (center), discusses the seizure of methamphetamine valued at 5 million pesos during the raid at a local mayor’s house, Oct. 6, 2017.
Mark Navales/BenarNews

Ten suspected drug dealers were killed and more than 140 others arrested in nationwide counter-narcotics raids, police said Friday amid a growing public clamor to stop such operations that mostly target the poor, according to rights groups.

In the southern Philippines, drug enforcement officers raided the house of a local mayor and confiscated a methamphetamine laboratory, authorities said. The mayor, who was not at the house, surrendered later.

The raids were carried out Thursday under the national police’s program, including in several cities and towns in Bulacan, a province near Manila, provincial police chief Senior Supt. Romeo Caramat said. Officers from 23 police precincts carried out 69 “buy-bust operations” across the province.

“The arrested suspects and recovered pieces of evidence were brought to Bulacan Crime Laboratory Office for appropriate examination,” Bulacan police said in a statement. It said police forces were “continuously and relentlessly implementing its intensified campaign against illegal drugs” directed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

‘A lot of explaining to do’

In southern General Santos City, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency members said they raided the house of Aniceto P. Lopez Jr., the mayor of Maasim town and discovered a mini laboratory for making methamphetamine hydrochloride, or “ice.”

The agents also recovered stash of the drug valued at about 5 million pesos (U.S. $97,500). Apart from Lopez, four people, including a village councilman, were arrested, drug enforcement chief Aaron Aquino said.

Lopez is the alleged leader of the El Patron group, a local drug syndicate operating in the southern region, Aquino said.

Aquino said police had information linking the drug ring to Reynaldo Parojinog, the mayor of southern Ozamiz city, who was killed along with 14 other members of his family during a police crackdown in July.

Parojinog was the third local executive killed in the drug war, and like the two others, he publicly denied allegations of being involved in the drug trade.

Duterte has a list of about 150 people allegedly tied to the drug trade, including mayors, village officials, judges and members of the police and military. He has refused to divulge how he obtained the list, but has waved it around when making public speeches.

His spokesmen said Duterte had his own sources, but rights groups and the church have questioned the veracity of the list, saying it was an automatic death sentence for anyone on it.

Aquino said the raiding team also found a “blue book” allegedly containing transaction records and names of several people that he did not divulge.

“The mayor had a lot of explaining to do with regard to the contraband and other illegal items seized from his house,” Aquino said.

Drugs, ammunition and paraphernalia were recovered during Thursday’s raids, which came about six weeks after more than 100 people were killed in a week-long operation.

Mayor Aniceto P. Lopez Jr.’s ID card. (Courtesy of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency)


Teen deaths

Earlier, Duterte had praised police for the drug war, but he was forced to moderate his tone after three teenagers were killed in August.

The trio died in separate incidents, triggering widespread street protests led by the politically influential Roman Catholic Church. More than 80 percent of the country’s 103 million people are Catholics, making the Philippines Asia’s bastion of the religion, where the church traditionally has played a role in shaping public opinion.

A closed-circuit TV camera filmed one of the boys, Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17, being led away by officers, challenging the official police version that he died following a shootout.

Duterte met with the boy’s parents and promised them justice, saying he never ordered the police to kill anyone but only to defend themselves if they came under attack.

Shortly after delos Santos’ killing, police were accused of taking a 14-year-old boy and a 19-year-old man into custody. The boy’s mutilated body, his head wrapped in packing tape, was found two weeks later.

The 19-year-old was killed in Manila after allegedly trying to rob a taxi driver and engaging in a shootout with police.

Felipe Villamor in Manila contributed to this report.


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