war on drugs

Marcos admits ‘abuses by certain elements in gov’t’ in Duterte’s drug war

Bea Cupin

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Marcos admits ‘abuses by certain elements in gov’t’ in Duterte’s drug war

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. delivered his policy speech at the Center of Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C., USA on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Presidential Communications Office

But the Philippine president refuses to assess the previous admin’s bloody and controversial war on drugs

WASHINGTON DC, USA – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday, May 4, said a “focus on enforcement” during his predecessor’s bloody and controversial war on drugs resulted in “abuses by certain elements in the government.”

The Philippine president, speaking before the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), was asked about his administration’s plan to “tackle that culture [of impunity] and human rights abuses” in the country. 

“Most of the discussion that are critical of the human rights situation of the Philippines derived from the policy that we undertook to fight the drug war,” said Marcos, who ran as the de facto administration candidate to former president Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 elections. His running mate was Sara Duterte, daughter of the former president, who won as vice president and is now also the education secretary.  

“In my view, what had happened in the previous administration is that we focused very much on enforcement. And because of that, it could be said that there and that has caused some concern… in many quarters about the human rights situation in the Philippines,” added Marcos.

The older Duterte’s war on drugs has been the subject of criticism and concern from sectors both inside and outside the Philippines. Duterte is being probed by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over deaths associated with his anti-drug campaign both as president and as long-time mayor of Davao City.  

While Duterte was ruthless both in words and on the ground in what would be a failed promise to rid the Philippines of illegal drugs, Marcos has – at least on paper – taken a different approach. He has emphasized, several times in the past, a focus “dismantling syndicates” and focusing on rehabilitation. 

In a later interview with traveling media, Marcos refused to “assess” how Duterte handled the drug war. “I’m in no position to assess the administration of anyone else.” 

PNP reform

In answering questions about the aftermath of Duterte’s drug war, Marcos pointed to a “commission” his administration had formed to “cleanse” the Philippine National Police (PNP), chief implementor of the drug war. Duterte also made “internal cleansing” a pillar of his drug war. 

All senior officials in the PNP – from colonel to three-star generals – were asked to hand in their courtesy resignation as part of the controversial “cleansing.” Thus far, said Marcos, two resignations have been accepted. Over 30 more are under investigation. 

But even as Marcos promised reform in the police force, he has consistently defended the man whom victims of the drug war say is ultimately responsible: Rodrigo Duterte. 

Marcos has insisted the ICC has no jurisdiction and claimed that the local criminal justice system is functioning. Yet, only a handful of convictions have been made in relation to abuses and killings in the drug war. – Rappler.com

Callamard: Marcos gov’t must probe Duterte’s responsibility in drug war killings

Callamard: Marcos gov’t must probe Duterte’s responsibility in drug war killings

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.