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Amnesty International report: Bulacan is drug war’s ‘bloodiest killing field’

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BULACAN, a province adjacent to Metro Manila, has been dubbed as the country’s “bloodiest killing field” due to the number of “extrajudicial executions” linked to the government’s war against illegal drugs, according to rights group Amnesty International. “Located just north of the capital, Bulacan is a province to which a number of police commanders who previously supervised abusive operations in Manila have been transferred over the past eighteen months,” said the group in its latest report released July 8. The report, titled “They Just Kill: Ongoing Extrajudicial Executions and Other Violations In The Philippines’ ‘War on Drugs’,” documented 20 incidents of drug-related killings in Bulacan that took place between May and April this year, wherein 27 were killed. Of these incidents, 18 involved killings in police operations and two by unknown armed persons. “While drug-related killings continue to occur across the country, the epicentre of killings has shifted from Metro Manila to Central Luzon, following the transfer and promotion of senior police officers under whose command the police previously killed large numbers of people in the National Capital Region. Victims of killings are overwhelmingly from poor and marginalized communities,” said the report. In reaction to the report, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said the group is “politicizing” the alleged cases of extrajudicial killings. “The problem is this Amnesty International is politicizing the so-called extra judicial killings in this country. So there is bias, there is prejudice. So we’d rather have our own groups here protective of human rights to help those who feel that there has been police abuse in the matter of police operations,” said Mr. Panelo in a press briefing. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras