VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte says 2-3 cops killed daily in war on drugs

Amid the public outrage sparked by the death of 17-year-old Kian Loyd De Los Santos, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte claimed the country loses “two, three policemen” daily in the war on drugs.


In a Malacañang media briefing on Aug. 21, Duterte was asked to comment on the killing of Grade 11 student De Los Santos by Caloocan City cops in an Aug. 16 anti-drug operation.

He said:

“I lose two, three policemen a day. Nung isang araw (One time), they were about to serve a warrant, o pinatay, naunahan (they got killed). Papunta pa lang sila, tinamaan na sa dibdib (They were on their way when they were shot in the chest).”

Source: Media Interview with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Malacañang, Aug. 21, 2017,
watch from 6:16 to 6:55

Breaking his numbers down, Duterte added:

I have lost about a hundred plus soldiers. Policemen, mga about 67. Why? Bakit mas marami ang military (Why more casualties from the military)? Because in Mindanao, alam mo na (you know). In Marawi and in Ozamiz, they were producing shabu more than its normal consumption sa mga tao (by its users).


The president’s numbers run counter to “Real Numbers PH,” the official figures on the war on drugs released by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

A total of 68 law enforcers have been killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to July 26, 2017, according to PDEA.

#RealNumbersPH Drug law enforcers killed and wounded in anti-drug operations

Infographic from PDEA

The tally includes members of the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and PDEA.

The period covered by PDEA data spans 390 days since Duterte assumed office.

Divide the number of law enforcers killed by the number of days, and one gets two law enforcers killed every ten days, not two to three daily as the president claimed.

PDEA also reports that 184 law enforcers have been wounded in anti-drug operations during the same period.


As early as two months into his presidency, Duterte had already claimed two to three cops die everyday in his administration’s war on drugs.

In a media conference in Davao City on August 24, 2016, he said:

“Is there anybody sa inyo (among you), ‘yung mga human rights, counting the dead soldiers and policemen? I’m losing, as a matter of fact, on the average, two. It’s either soldier, drug connected ha. Either a police or a military man, nag-aano, nag-a-average ako ng dalawang araw na patay (an average of two killed per day.)”

Source: Statement of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Davao City, Aug, 24, 2016,
watch from 8:20 to 8:47

He repeated the claim in an Oct. 27 press conference, and said:

“There is even a war going on. I’m losing two or three policemen a day.”

Source: Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s Arrival Speech from Japan, Davao City, Oct. 27. 2016,
watch from 41:27 to 41:32

In a Bukidnon speech on March 25, 2017, during the groundbreaking ceremony of a drug treatment and rehabilitation center, the numbers increased to “three to four” a day. Duterte said:

And what about extrajudicial killing? You read the newspaper today. You read the report, I have a briefer as well. Ibigay mo sa kanila ‘yung (Give them the) briefer. I lose three to four policemen and soldiers a day within the Philippines and in Mindanao, it is fueling the ISIS.

Transcript of Speech of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon, March 25, 2017


Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency #RealNumbersPH

Philippine Government Settles Real Score on Anti-Drug War, Calls for Cooperation, Reform

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative.)