Responding to President Duterte’s most recent declaration saying that the war on drugs will be harsher in the coming days, Butch Olano, Amnesty International Philippines Section Director said,
“As if the current war on drugs with more than 20,000 people killed is not harsh enough, President Duterte warns of harsher days. The bloodshed brought about by waging war on drugs, which devastated families and communities equally as drugs have, didn’t even leave a dent on the drug problem in the Philippines. He only created a fertile breeding ground for more human rights violations and victims of the war on drugs continue to face a difficult journey towards justice. There is no let up on the President’s policy while the Philippines is bleeds.
“Amnesty International reiterates its position that the war on drugs constitutes crimes against humanity and President Duterte’s recent declaration of harsher days adds on to the list of messages of concern for the ICC to consider for them to engage towards a preliminary investigation.”
Thousands of people have been killed in a wave of state-sanctioned violence since the start of President Duterte’s presidency. In 2018, the International Criminal Court launched a preliminary examination of the crimes allegedly committed by the Philippine government in the context of the “war on drugs”.
On 20 February, President Duterte declared that his anti-drug campaign will be “harsher in the days to come.” Further saying that “I am declaring war. I am not declaring a punitive police action. It cannot help and it would not help. So early on I decided but I think I’d be more — well I said harsher in the days to come.”
Amnesty International has repeatedly warned that President Duterte’s calls have created an environment where police, unknown armed gunmen believed to be linked to the police and the general population believe they have a free rein to kill with impunity. He has issued and publicized ‘kill lists’– names of people allegedly associated with using or trading drugs – and suggested that murder by police or civilian actors of people suspected of using and selling drugs will go unpunished.