TRECE MARTIRES, Philippines (AFP) – The Philippines burned 1.4 tonnes of seized narcotics yesterday as police warned the nation still faces a ‘flood’ of illegal drugs despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly crackdown.
Cellophane wrapped bricks of cocaine and methamphetamine were packed into a massive incinerator in Trece Martires City under armed guard in a carefully staged event before TV cameras.
Police said they are now targetting higher-level traffickers despite an anti-drug crackdown that has officially killed over 5,300 alleged users and dealers – a number rights groups say could be three times higher.
“We have shifted to supply reduction because the flood of illegal drugs continues despite our intensified campaign… on the street level,” national police spokesman Bernard Banac told reporters.
Despite a campaign pledge to rid the nation of drugs within months of taking office in 2016, in March Duterte said “things have worsened.”
Campaigners say the drug war killings could amount to crimes against humanity.
Though the Philippines has pulled out of the International Criminal Court, the war crimes body is pushing ahead with a preliminary examination of the crackdown.
Police said the cache burned yesterday accounted for just over a fifth of all dangerous drugs seized by police in the past three years.
“All of the drugs seized… will be burned and will not be recycled,” said Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Chief Aaron Aquino, referring to the practice whereby corrupt police sell seized narcotics.