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HomeHot TopicsHuman Rights Group Condemns Marcos Jr.'s Inaction in Addressing 'Drug War' Killings

Human Rights Group Condemns Marcos Jr.’s Inaction in Addressing ‘Drug War’ Killings

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s alleged slowness in ending deadly anti-drug raids has come under fire from a human rights organization, which has encouraged local leaders like Sebastian Duterte, the mayor of Davao City, to resurrect his father’s divisive “war on drugs,” according to a study released on Monday.

Mayor Duterte, following in the footsteps of his father Rodrigo Duterte, who served as president from 2016 to 2022 and as mayor of Davao City, started a war on illegal narcotics in March.

The Commission on Human Rights launched a probe into drug-related fatalities after at least seven drug suspects were slain during police operations in Davao City within a week after this statement.

“The recent surge in killings in Davao City and other areas indicates that President Marcos has not taken sufficient measures to end the ‘drug war,'” said Bryony Lau, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The Dahas Project of the University of the Philippines Third World Studies Center is monitoring the drug-related homicides, and the latest deaths in Davao City bring the total to over 15 documented killings since January. As of March 26, Davao City was listed by Dahas as a “top hotspot” for drug-related homicides.

Dahas further disclosed that since Sebastian took office as mayor in June 2022, Davao del Sur—which includes the city’s larger province area—has had more drug-related fatalities than any other region in the Philippines, even surpassing Metro Manila.

53 of the 342 killings that were reported between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, took place in Davao del Sur. By contrast, during the same time period, 44 people were killed in Cebu and 43 in the capital region.

According to Lau, “The unfortunate truth is that these killings persist, leaving thousands of victims and their families in Davao City and elsewhere without recourse or justice.”

In the framework of the “war on drugs,” the International Criminal Court (ICC) is actively looking into claims of crimes against humanity that occurred under Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, both as president and previously as mayor of Davao City.

Rights organizations like HRW contend that deaths continue because the “drug war” is still an official state policy, despite Marcos carrying on his predecessor’s anti-drug campaign and emphasizing rehabilitation.

Since Marcos took power in June 2022, approximately 600 drug-related killings have occurred, according to Dahas.

HRW maintains that local officials like Sebastian would keep defending the killings of suspected drug offenders unless Marcos enacts a policy change to stop targeted killings and guarantees the thorough prosecution of individuals accountable for unlawful deaths.

“The Marcos administration must take decisive action to signal the official end of the ‘drug war,'” Lau said.

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