Duterte Government disputes NY Times ‘slaughter’ article as ‘totally one-sided’
The Philippine Consulate General in New York conveys the following response to a December 7 New York Times article “They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals.” This statement was issued by the Presidential Communications Operations Office in Malacanang:
“There are two sides in every story. The New York Times article entitled ‘They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals’ dated 7 December is totally one-sided as it depicts the Philippines as the Wild, Wild West in this part of the world. This is furthest from the truth.
“If the reporter had bothered to check the facts of the 3,000 deaths under investigation by the Philippine National police, only 1,080 are drug-related. The rest are murder and homicide cases perpetrated by riding-in-tandem gunmen which the Philippine National Police (PNP) is now investigating, the results of which will be made public in due time.
“The police have nothing to do with these killings. The President has not given any direct orders for them to kill drug dealers and users on mere suspicion. Police operatives only neutralize those who violently resist arrest, or else they could be the ones who end up dead. Thus, the President’s marching order to the police is that they have the right to defend themselves when their lives are endangered.
“A number of police officers have already died in the war on drugs. This demonstrates the magnitude of the drug problem in the country, and the need for resolute and decisive response by law enforcement. As President Duterte pointed out in his first State of the Nation Address: ‘To our police officers and other officials, do your job and you will have the unwavering support of the Office of the President. I will be with you all the way. Abuse your authority and there will be a hell to pay, for you have become worse than criminality itself.’
“We ask foreign media to present both sides of the story when reporting on the Philippine war on drugs. We in government, including the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies, would be more than willing to help in unearthing the truth and presenting the facts about the drug menace to the public.”
In the NYT article, photojournalist Daniel Berehulak documents the deaths of 57 supposed drug suspects over 35 days, the length of his stay in the country. What he saw were “bloody scenes just about everywhere imaginable — on the sidewalk, on train tracks, in front of a girls’ school, outside 7-Eleven stores and a McDonald’s restaurant, across bedroom mattresses and living-room sofas.”
Berehulak writes that in his career, he has covered assignments in 60 countries including Iraq and Afghanistan.
“What I experienced in the Philippines felt like a new level of ruthlessness: police officers’ summarily shooting anyone suspected of dealing or even using drugs, vigilantes’ taking seriously Mr. Duterte’s call to ‘slaughter them all.’”