Many have called into question the actions taken by the Philippines to combat the presence of illegal drugs. As law makers in other regions have struggled to deal with the rising drug problem, the Philippines have executed measures that some view as a clear violation of human rights and others have gone as far to label, a crime against humanity. As a result, The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a preliminary investigation into the accusations against President Rodrigo Duterte and other Philippine officials.
President Duterte began the crackdown on drugs as mayor of Davao City from 2013 to 2016. His campaign rested on a plan aimed at eradicating those under suspicion of drug use through extrajudicial tactics, claiming that drugs were a fundamental problem for the Philippines’s development. In 2016, Duterte was elected as President and promised a similar strategy to combat the war on drugs, stating that, “The drive against corruption, criminality and drugs will resume and it will continue.” His efforts have led to a stark rise in attacks and deaths of alleged or suspected civilians across the entire nation.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s plan to eradicate drug use across the country has encouraged rhetoric in the Philippines that has begun to normalize abuse, executions, and overbearing government force. Since 2016, it is estimated that Philippine Police have killed upwards of 7000 people suspected of drug related crimes. However, activists believes the death toll to be far greater than reported and speculate there to be wide spread cover up, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. In a recent speech given in Davao, President Duterte has gone as far to offer to money for each death of a New People's Army (NPA) member.
The announcement of the ICC to open a preliminary investigation, in response to increased pressure from human rights groups marks a pivotal moment for international justice and the fight against impunity.