“As of July 1 to August 15, we have a total of 899 deaths under investigation,” National Police chief General Ronal Dela Rosa told the Senate on Thursday during hearings on the anti-drugs campaign.
The killings are separate from those attributed to legitimate police operations.
“Those are the dead who were just found floating along canals, the dead who were dumped along roads with their hands tied and their faces, eyes, and mouths taped … Those are the deaths under investigation,” Dela Rosa told a press briefing after the hearing.
Of the 899 deaths, at least 22 cases of suspected extra-judicial killings related to illegal drugs have been filed by Police in court for initial investigation.
“Most of the suspects are drug pushers who became hitmen of the drug lords,” said Dela Rosa of the 22 cases.
Dela Rosa said that as of Thursday, 665 drug suspects were killed in legal police operations since President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30.
In his election campaign, Duterte had promised a bloody war on drugs and criminality.
Senator Grace Poe, who lost to Duterte in the May 9 election, said it was important that the rule of law and rights of individuals are respected in the crackdown.
Duterte said Wednesday his government was willing to be investigated over the increasing number of deaths of suspected drug dealers.
“We are willing to submit ourselves for an investigation before anybody,” Duterte said in a speech at police headquarters, adding that some of the killings were carried out by drug gangs.
“But do not attribute acts of other criminals upon my government. The fight against drugs will continue unrelenting until we have destroyed the apparatus operating in the entire country,” he said.
Source: GNA/News Ghana