The Intensifying Drug War in the Philippines is a War Against the People

Thousands of people have been killed without trial in anti-drug operations so far this year, by the police and by hired vigilantes, including over 80 in the week ending Saturday, August 19th. This has been the bloodiest week in Duterte’s war on drugs. A survey has said that a majority of Filipinos are either “very worried” or “somewhat worried” that they or someone they know will be a victim of extra-judicial killings. Instead of treating the underlying disease, the government’s forces are choosing to literally kill the patient.

The Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines is strongly opposed to this war and we stand on the side of the people who are demanding that the disease be treated correctly. We believe The People’s Agenda for Change has the proposals necessary to address the root causes of injustice and drug abuse. Instead of spending money on bullets, society should open rehabilitation centers for drug users and make healthcare free and accessible for all. Also, free education, the creation of living-wage jobs, safe and quality housing for all, and a resumption of peace talks, will all help to heal society and the drug problem. More corrupt violence against ordinary people can only make things worse.


Slain 17 year old Kian Loyd Delos Santos is a symbol for these outrages. Police claimed that the boy, who wanted to become an officer himself, ran when they approached him, They say he pulled out a gun and fired at the them, before they fired back and killed him. However three witnesses and CCTV footage dispute this: They say the officers forced the teenager to hold a gun, fire, and run, all while he cried, before shooting him dead. The video shows them carrying his body to where they say he fell. Adding insult to injury, Kian’s mother worked overseas in Saudi Arabia and allegedly had to beg her employers on her knees to allow her the freedom to come back to see her son.

Duterte was elected with a promise to resign if he didn’t eliminate the country’s drug problem in his first 3-6 months in office. Now that over a year has passed since his election, we can see that unfortunately, he seems to only have a single tool that he likes to use in his failed fight against drugs. Duterte is sending the police and paramilitaries against those denounced or suspected to be small-time users and dealers on a massive scale. If there is no evidence, that is no problem: it is an open secret that police plant guns and drugs on suspects, who overwhelmingly come from the urban poor. Under this system, a simple dispute with a neighbor may lead to a de facto death sentence requiring you to flee your home and neighborhood, if you are lucky. Rule of law and “due process” are not given to ordinary people. But because of government corruption, suspected big time drug lords, people like Peter Lim and Duterte’s son Paulo, are not punished, and tons of methamphetamine (shabu) continue to be imported and manufactured.

Lets deepen our analysis and condemn the wrongdoings of the regime. Engage and get a deeper understanding of the situation by coming to our livescreened forum Peace Beyond the Peace Talks, Saturday, August 26 at 10:30 AM. We will hear from NDF negotiators in the Netherlands on their perspective on the current Philippine situation and challenges to the continuation of the peace talks.