Drug war: 444 suspects slain in August

MANILA: Up to 444 drug suspects were killed last month in the Philippines as part of the government’s ongoing crackdown against narcotics, authorities said on Thursday.
The figures for August take the total number of deaths in the war on drugs to 4,854, according the latest report released by the Philippine Drug Enforment Agency (PDEA), the Philippine National Police and other government agencies.
The government has claimed that only those suspects who have resisted arrest have been killed.
The total arrest count has reached 155,193, while at least 12 narcotics laboratories and 223 drug dens have been dismantled, the report stated.
The government has recovered 24.2 billion Philippine pesos ($446.6 million) worth of narcotics.
Human rights advocates have claimed the civilian death toll has exceeded 12,000, which they say includes vigilante-style killings.
In a survey released on Tuesday by private polling firm Social Weather Stations, 26 per cent of Filipinos said they do not believe police claims that those killed in the drug war have fought back. In comparison, 27 per cent of the respondents said they believed the police.
The survey also showed that 96 per cent of Filipinos want police to capture drug suspects alive while 4 per cent said it is not important.
The Philippines on Thursday raised key interest rates for the fourth time this year as it aims to tame inflation that has spiked to a nine-year high and shore up its tumbling currency.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas again pumped the brakes, this time with a 50 basis point hike to 4.5 per cent, as worries grow the nation’s economy is overheating.
Consumer prices rose by a nine-year high to 6.4 per cent in August, with some analysts warning the September data, due out next week, could top seven per cent.
“The Monetary Board recognised that a further tightening of monetary policy was warranted by persistent signs of sustained and broadening price pressures,” the bank said.
It added that inflation for this year and next would likely surpass the monetary authority’s own forecasts.
The destruction wrought earlier this month by Typhoon Mangkhut, 2018’s most powerful storm, is expected to further push up prices because of widespread damage to key agricultural areas.
Rising prices, along with shortages in the supply of rice, the country’s staple cereal, have become a political liability for President Rodrigo Duterte.
The increases have hit hardest among the poor, who make up nearly a quarter of the nation’s 105 million people.
The central bank — which has raised its key rates by 150 basis points since May — also said the latest rate hike should help reduce further risks to inflation, including exchange rate volatility. — dpa/AFP