Criticism from within . . .
Since his election in 2016, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has pursued a devastating war on drugs that has officially resulted in over 6,000 deaths. Human rights groups estimate the death toll is closer to 27,000. While the drug war has been condemned around the world, domestic support for it has remained high, until recently. The head of drug enforcement for the Philippine National Police, Colonel Romero Caramat, said that the “ultra-violent approach to curbing illicit drugs had not been effective.” Carmarat acknowledged that crime has decreased as a result of the drug war, but emphasized that the drug supply remains rampant and that he now favoured a new strategy.
Domestic support fading . . .
While support for the drug war remains high in the Philippines, the population recognizes the violence and human rights abuses it is causing. A recent survey shows that 76% of Filipinos believe the human rights abuses are “many.” Results also show that 56% of respondents agree with the July 2019 UN Human Rights Council’s resolution to investigate the extrajudicial killings under the drug war and the human rights situation in the country. Further, a network of Filipino human rights organizations last Friday submitted a report to the UN body highlighting the country’s worsening human rights crisis.
Awaiting UN Human Rights Council report . . .
The UN Human Rights Council’s resolution on the Philippines, which Canada supported, will culminate in its High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, presenting a comprehensive report on the country’s drug war in June 2020. While the report’s recommendations will not be binding, it promises to shed light on the scope of human rights abuses in the country, and provide a tool for the international community to engage with Manila on its controversial drug strategy.