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ere are two ways Neptali Celestino could have died in the Philippines. The police say he was caught in a sting, and fired the first shot. But his family says he was unarmed when authorities gunned him down in front of his sons. Either way, Celestino's days may have been numbered.
He was on a police watch list, a key tool in President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, which has killed more than 3,600 people. Reuters' Andrew Marshall says it seems many of those began as a name on a list whether they deserved it or not.>> Human rights activists told me that the whole process is very opaque and open to abuse.
So that if your neighbor has a grudge against you, he or she can send an anonymous text message to the police, and the police might put you on the list. And once you're on the list, then you're in mortal danger. You'll be visited by police and local officials in an operation called Knock and Plead.
And this is when the police usually come door-to-door and they register and they question drug users and pushers. What they're supposed to do is identify the users so that they can receive treatment later on. The threat is that hundreds of people who have been on these watch lists, have later been killed by police.
>> Local officials in districts known as barangays, work with police to put the watch lists together, essentially turning trusted community leaders into foot soldiers for the war.>> Well, I talked to two barangay captains who said that they tried to save the life of drug suspects who are on the list, and who they feared are to be killed by police.
The barangay captains are under huge pressure. The president himself has said that anyone that doesn't toe the line in the drug war is potentially in league with the traffickers and could be a target themselves.>> Police tell the Reuters the watch lists are confidential, but they have a way of becoming public in tight knit communities.
Relatives at Celestino's funeral spoke about long running feud with another family who they blamed for calling their son out as a dealer, spurring police to cross his name off the list