Since taking power in June, Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, has unleashed a brutal war on drugs that has claimed the lives of over 6,000 people. On Monday, after the latest killings, he revealed to have personally executed drug suspects when serving as mayor.
Among the dead so far, almost two-thirds were killed in extrajudicial or vigilante-style killings, the rest in police operations. More than 40,000 suspects have been arrested. On the other hand, public opinion polls show the majority of Filipinos support Duterte’s war on drugs. They say it makes their communities feel safer. Yet, safety is a relative term.
In the run-up to the elections, Davao, Duterte’s city of birth, was often cited as one of, or even as the world’s safest city, an achievement credited to Duterte-enforced discipline. Crime did fall, but not entirely. Reported incidents of robbery, rape, assault, theft and other crimes declined significantly. However, murders rose by 68 percent to 1,271 in July from 755 last year. Homicides, differentiated from first degree murder, also increased to 214 from 197.
Duterte’s war on drugs seems to have no ending point in the near future, which has startled several human rights activists and dampered the once great relationship between the United States and the Philippines.