> This year it became clear how Rodrigo Duterte's drug war has shaken up the Philippines. Police have killed almost 4,000 people in their anti-drug campaign and thousands more have been killed by unknown assailants. Human rights activists also blame the police for these vigilante style killings, a claim police deny.
I'm Clare Baldwin, and have been covering the drug war in the Philippines for Reuters. Police have repeatedly told us that they follow the rule of law, and only shoot drug suspects in self-defense. But this year, our investigations revealed Philippine police have accepted cash payments for killing drug suspects.
They have planted evidence at crime scenes and they've brought dead drug suspects to hospital, in an apparent attempt to destroy crime scenes and cover up executions. As the year went on, police were rushing more and more suspects to hospital. The police said they were trying to save lives but this jarred with what eyewitnesses, doctors and forensic experts told us.
We also noticed that one police station in Quezon City, Station 6, had killed far more drug suspects than any other. As we dug further in, it turned out that the commander of Station 6 had been handpicked by Philippine National Police Chief Ronald dela Rosa. That commander brought a squad of men with him from Davao.
The commander said he and his men only killed drug suspects when they were armed and fought back. But when I asked one of his men about what was so special about Davao cops and why he was in Manila, he smiled and said, special kill skills. Duterte remains popular despite the thousands of drug war killings, but this year, he halted the drug war twice amid reports of alleged atrocities.
The first time was when it was discovered that anti-drug officers had kidnapped a South Korean businessman and murdered him at National Police Headquarters, then tried to extort money from his wife. The second time was after witnesses described police dragging a 17-year-old school boy to a dark, trash-filled alley in northern Manila, shooting him in the head and leaving his body next to a pigsty.
Their accounts appeared to be backed up by security camera footage and the killings sparked the biggest street protest against the drug war to date. Going into next year, we're waiting to see if there are more police that come out to talk about what they're doing in the drug war.
We're also looking to see if there's additional evidence such as security camera footage, or more complete police records that show what's happening in the Philippines.