The Philippine government has acknowledged at least 6,600 killings carried out by the police. However, evidence suggests that thousands more have been fatally shot by masked assassins, often driving in tandem on a motorbike.
Amnesty reports that the country’s “bloodiest killing field” has shifted from the capital region to Bulacan province, in Central Luzon, seven miles north of Manila.
The investigation identified 20 cases in which 27 people were killed between May 2018 and April this year. After interviewing 58 people, including witnesses, relatives and officials, the human rights group concluded that many of the deaths appeared to be extrajudicial killings.
In one case, police claimed Jovan Magtanong, 30, and a father of three children, was killed after he fired at them first. They alleged they had found a .38 calibre gun and sachets of illegal drugs at the scene.
However, witnesses said he was sleeping alongside his children when officers knocked on his house door asking for another man. His family said he did not even own a gun and had not used drugs for over a year. “They killed him like an animal,” said one relative.
“It is not safe to be poor in President Duterte’s Philippines,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty’s regional director for East and Southeast Asia.