Numbers not adding up as Duterte produces new estimate on police deaths

April 4, 2018 - 12:34 PM
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President Rodrigo Duterte has spewed a new count of cops who have been killed in the war on drugs. But does his number make sense? (Art by Interaksyon/Uela Badayos)

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte claimed that he loses three to four policemen a day in a March 21 speech before 108 new graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy Class of 2018.

But this latest statistical claim differs from his own previous estimates.

The head of state’s newly-posited estimate yields very different numbers from the estimate he gave as recently as five months ago.

In a speech given at the Kapampangan Food Festival in December last year, Duterte claimed that he had lost 242 policemen since the beginning of his deadly war on drugs. He also claimed to have lost close to 300 men in the Marawi siege that lasted from May to October last year.

The estimates given by Duterte, however, do not match with data from the #RealNumbersPH campaign launched by his communications office, the PCOO.

In an update posted by PCOO chief Martin Andanar on his Facebook page dated Dec. 3, 2017, the campaign listed 86 police deaths in between July 1 2016, just after Duterte took office, and November 27 the same year.

In the latest #RealNumbersPH update on the state-run Philippine Information Agency website dating February 12 this year, there have been 87 police deaths from drug operations.

In short, only one more police officer lost his life to the campaign in almost four months.

If #RealNumbersPH is to be believed, the number of police personnel who have lost their lives since the start of Duterte’s war on drugs has yet to reach even half of the number he claims.

Duterte’s most recent estimate of 3-4 police deaths a day yields an aggregate of 1,096 to 1,460 deaths a year. This number is ten times more than the 87 casualties from the war on drugs claimed by #RealNumbersPH.

#RealNumbersPH has yet to produce statistics on police deaths arising from other police campaigns.

Reports from as early as 2016 have quoted Duterte as saying that he was losing two policemen a day to the drug war. Assuming that Duterte spent at least 180 days in office in 2016, there should have been around 360 police deaths to mark the beginning of both his crusade against illegal drugs and his six months in office.

In a report in 2016, Senior Superintendent Wilfredo Cayat of the Philippine National Police Directorate for Personnel Records and Management, admitted to not knowing the source of Duterte’s claim that year, and hypothesized that Duterte’s estimate may have counted military casualties in the campaign.

If you do the math

Some Filipinos have expressed their concern, confusion and incredulity at Duterte’s new statistics.

The PNP is expanding its ranks

Philstar.com reported last year that there were at least 175,000 personnel in the PNP. The year 2017 also saw the recruitment of at least 14,484 officers into the force—more than 10,000 to fulfill the regular recruitment quote and 4,484 from attrition recruitment.

In the same report, Superintendent Juvenal Barbosa, assistant chief of the recruitment and selection division, mentioned a police to population ratio of 1:572, as opposed to the national standard of 1:500. He projected a ratio of 1:489.