During his campaign for the presidency in the 2016 Philippine elections, Rodrigo Duterte was adamant with his promise that he will kill thousands if not millions to rid the country of the drug menace. According to him, he will kill at least 100,000 criminals and fill Manila Bay with their dead bodies in the first six months of his term.
“It is going to be bloody,” Duterte told a business group. “I will use the military and the police to go out and arrest them, hunt for them. And if they will offer a violent resistance, and thereby placing the lives of the law enforcers and the military whom I would task for a job to do, I will simply say, ‘Kill them all and end the problem.”
Some of his close allies and supporters, on the other hand, are applauding him and calling the drug war a success. Metro Manila’s police chief Oscar Albayalde has been reported to say that by killing thousands, millions of Filipinos are living safer.
After the first five months of Duterte’s presidency, the Philippine National Police has claimed that crime rates nationwide had dipped by as much as 31.67 percent. Index crimes dropped to 55,391 in the months of July to November in 2017, compared to 81, 064 in the same period in 2016.
Index crimes consist of seven crimes including murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, larceny or theft, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.
However, outside of Duterte’s circle, dozens of groups and individuals, both local and international, have criticized the war on drugs. Some of them have cited some reasons that they believe why Duterte’s war on drug would fail.
De Lima, the strongest critic Duterte, has claimed that people are actually more scared than confident of the war on drugs. According to her, while she agrees with Duterte that the war menace in the country has become a crisis that needs to be addressed seriously. However, she believes that Duterte’s chosen approach is doing more harm than good.
A few months into Duterte’s presidency, De Lima herself was accused by no other than Duterte and his allies of coddling drug lords in and outside the National Penitentiary Compound. Then in February she was arrested and sent to prison. This move by the government was condemned by international institutions like the European Union.
Just this May, UN rapporteur Agnes Callamard has called on President Duterte to end the War on Drugs once and for all. “Your president must listen to what we have to say, your president must stop the war on drugs,” Callamard said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Philippines.
Countless others have called upon Duterte to end his war, including the former president of Colombia- who has led a drug war himself, human rights watch group, student activists, and dozens of other politicians. None of whom were able to make Duterte give a second think on his war on drug.
At least 8000 suspected drug personalities have already been reported dead, with the numbers still rising people are still asking whether the drug war has attained its goal or has it made an already troubled country sink deeper into chaos.