Manila drug war death toll hits 80 this week

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MANILA: Police killed at least 13 people in the Philippines capital on the third night of an escalation in President Rodrigo Duterte's ruthless war on drugs and crime, taking the toll for one of the bloodiest weeks so far to 80, witnesses and media reports said yesterday.

Earlier this week, 67 people were gunned down and more than 200 arrested in Manila and adjoining provinces, in what police described as a "One-Time, Big-Time" push to curb drugs and street crimes.

The term has been used by Philippines police to describe a coordinated anti-crime drive in crime-prone districts, usually slums or low-income neighbourhoods, often with additional police deployed.

The spike in killings drew condemnation from Vice-President Leni Robredo, who belongs to a party opposed to Mr Duterte.

Branding it "something to be outraged about", she has been a constant critic of the crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos and caused international alarm since Mr Duterte took office just over a year ago.

A team of Reuters journalists went to five communities in Manila on Thursday night, where four men died in shoot-outs with undercover police in drug 'buy-bust' or sting operations.

Police prevented the journalists from getting near the scene in the north-western neighbourhood of Caloocan but they saw three body bags being taken from a maze of narrow alleys. Elsewhere in Caloocan, they saw the corpse of a man slumped on an iron fence at the back of a mini-bus terminal.

Another man was killed near the Manila post office building, four died in hospitals in the northern area of Malabon and another died on the spot near a former garbage dump in the sprawling Quezon City district. Three others were killed elsewhere on Thursday night, according to a radio report.

"The killing spree must stop even as we also demand a stop to the proliferation of illegal drugs," Renato Reyes, secretary-general of the left-wing Bayan (Nation) movement, said.- REUTERS