Inside Duterte’s Unlawful War on Drugs


“I will kill you, I will kill you. I will take the law into my own hands… forget about the laws of men, forget about the laws of international law whatever.”

― Rodrigo Duterte, August 17, 2016

Since taking office on June 30, 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has carried out a “war on drugs” which reported by Human Rights Watch that has led to the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos to date, mostly urban poor. Human Rights Watch research has also found that police are falsifying evidence to justify the unlawful killings. Despite growing calls for an investigation, Duterte has vowed to continue the campaign.


Duterte’s Background

Before being elected president, Rodrigo Duterte was the mayor of Davao City for more than two decades. There, the “Davao Death Squad” had killed hundreds of drug users, street children, and other petty criminals. While denying involvement in the death squads, Duterte endorsed their killings as an effective way to combat crime.

Even prior to announcing his candidacy for the May 2016 presidential election, Duterte was already very clear about his intention to eliminate crime by eliminating criminals. Duterte’s outspoken vow to embark on a nationwide killing campaign against drug dealers and drug users was the foundation of his presidential electoral platform.

During a campaign rally on March 15, 2016, for example, he, as quoted by Human Rights Watch stated, “When I become president, I will order the police to find those people [dealing or using drugs] and kill them. The funeral parlours will be packed.”

Follow to this, on the eve of his May 9, 2016 election victory, Duterte told a crowd of more than 300,000, “If I make it to the presidential palace I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I’ll kill you.”


Thousands of People Has Been Killed

Since Duterte’s first day as president on June 30, 2016, up to June 30, 2018, more than 4,500 people have been killed in what the Philippine National Police (PNP) calls lawful anti-drug operations, alleging that the suspects fought back during raids. Thousands more have been killed by unidentified assailants throughout the country.

Research by Human Rights Watch, other rights groups, and the media have shown that police officers and their agents have routinely executed unarmed suspects during these anti-drug operations and, in many instances, planted evidence such as drugs and weapons on the bodies of victims to justify their killing. Most of the killings have occurred in impoverished areas of Metro Manila, but there has been an increase in killings in Cebu and other cities. This killing includes countries officials. Two more mayors in the Philippines were assassinated this month, bringing the total to at least 10 mayors killed since President Rodrigo Duterte took office.

Protesters gather outside the Philippine House of Representatives in Quezon City where President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his second state of the nation address Monday. | AFP-JIJI
Philippine School Kids May Face Mandatory Drug Tests

Last June, as it is mentioned on the release from Human Rights Watch, The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) announced that it is seeking the authority from the Dangerous Drugs Board to impose annual surprise drug screening tests on teachers and school children starting from the fourth grade. PDEA has justified the move as an attempt to identify 10-year-old potential drug users so they “can get intervention while they are still young.”

This proposal will place school children at grave risk. It marks a drastic extension of mandatory drug testing already in place for all college students and applicants and will effectively allow the police to extend their “anti-drug” operations to primary school classrooms. Imposing mandatory drug testing on schoolchildren when Philippine police are committing rampant summary killings of alleged drug users puts countless children in danger for failing a drug test.


Sources: Human Rights Watch, New York Times

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Johnny Gunawan
Coffee-Drinker, Adventure Addict, Marvel fans, Blogger. I’m very busy and important!




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