The Philippine War on Drugs


The Philippines, Asia/Pacific

The Philippine War on Drugs refers to the violence inflicted upon suspected drug affiliates by former President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration. Duterte enforced a hard stance on eradication over rehabilitation when dealing with the crisis. Since June 2016, thousands of people have been killed by police in drug raids, and by unnamed vigilante killers who are rumoured to be executing drug users on behalf of the former President. As a result, the war on drugs in the Philippines made the country the fourth most dangerous in the world, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

The Philippine National Police have been accused of staging murders by planting drugs and weapons on their victims.  While drug users are given the option of registering with authorities in exchange for safety, many of these registered users have still lost their lives due to police brutality. These government-led attacks have impacted children and newborns, especially within poverty-stricken areas. The areas that have been most highly targeted are Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and the National Capital Region.

The war on drugs has been met with international condemnation by organizations like the United Nations and various human rights groups. Duterte’s actions have been described as “crimes against humanity” and a recent UN report called for an “independent, impartial, credible investigation into all allegations of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.” In response, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the International Criminal Court and has repeatedly rejected the findings from human rights investigations while intensifying his crackdown, claiming that the drug problem has “worsened.” Meanwhile, the death toll continues to climb, and many of the victims and their families have yet to receive justice.

The recent election of Ferdinand Marcos Jnr as President of the Philippines has potentially added a new dimension to the ongoing war on drugs. The incoming President has promised a tough approach but one that also focuses on rehabilitation for offenders and the targeting of bigger players in the drug trade, not individual users. While it is uncertain whether his pre election statements will match his policies, this to the last eight years of death squads and the targeting of drug users in poorer Philippine communities.

Allegations of drug-trafficking offenses should be judged in a court of law, not by gunmen on the streets.

Agnes Callamard, Human Rights Activist

Key Facts

Estimated 12,000

People killed

14 Mayors/Deputies

Killed

Ongoing since

2016

Population: 106.7 million

Deaths: The government officially records 6,248 deaths, but human rights groups claim the figure is closer to 12,000.

Surrendered drug users: 1.3 million

Drug related arrests:

  • High valued arrests: 8,185
  • Drug suspects arrested: Approximately 300,000

Uninvestigated homicides: more than 16,000 estimated

Drug users in the Philippines: estimated between 1.8 to 4 million

Seized methamphetamine: 40.39 billion pesos (US$796m) seized by police

The Key Actors

Timeline of the crisis

Rodrigo Duterte of the The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino political party was elected President after serving several terms as the Mayor of Davao City.

Duterte urged the Communist Rebels (New People’s Army) and civilians to kill drug lords and drug users.

The Philippine National Police announced that they have killed 30 people in drug raids in the three days since Duterte became president.

Communist Rebels gave their New People’s Army permission to fight in the Drug War alongside Duterte’s forces.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, The Philippines’ largest Islamic rebel group, announced they were open to siding with the government and participating in the drug war.

The Communist Party removes their support for Duterte’s Drug war, citing their concerns of extrajudicial killings.

Duterte threatened to leave the UN after their human rights experts asked him to stop giving vigilantes permission to kill drug suspects on his behalf.

The U.S. State Department expressed concern over Duterte meeting his human rights obligations through his violent approach to the drug war.

Following the September 2 bombing in Davao City that left 14 dead, Duterte declared a state of emergency over the whole country. Duterte declared there would be “ensured coordinated efforts” between the government, police, and military against terrorism and drugs.

A Senior PNP Police Officer told The Guardian he is part of a special operative squad responsible for assassinating people on Duterte’s hit list. The unnamed officer said they either dump the bodies, or label them as “drug lord” or “pusher” to deter investigations into the deaths. He claims he killed 87 people since the beginning of Duterte’s presidency.

Duterte revealed his watch list of people participating in the Filipino drug industry, which includes thousands of police officers, mayors, and officials.

The U.S. halted the sale of 2,600 rifles to the PNP due to  human rights concerns.

The UN Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights released a report stating there was no legitimate proof that the Filipino Government was conducting extrajudicial executions to eradicate their drug problem.

Under pressure from human rights groups, Duterte withdrew the police from the drug war, leaving operations to the Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency with support from The Armed Forces of the Philippines (the military).

Thousands gathered in Manila to protest for and against Duterte’s drug war on the 31st anniversary of the Philippines pro-democracy movement.

Duterte claimed he needs more men and brought some PNP officers back into the drug campaign.

A Reuters investigation revealed police have been intentionally rushing drug suspect victims who are already dead to hospital as an excuse to hide the bodies and tamper with the crime scene.

The mayor of Ozamiz City Reynaldo Parojinog, his wife, and 13 others were killed by police in an early morning raid of his home. Police claimed they had a search warrant and found drugs and excessive weaponry in the residence.

Bulacan police’s “one-time big-time” drug operation left 32 dead and 107 arrested. Among the fatalities was 17 year old Kian delos Santos. His death caused controversy as Police accounts did not match CCTV footage and witness statements of the incident. 19 year old Carl Angelo Arnaiz and their 14 year-old friend Reynaldo de Guzman were also killed. In response, Human Rights Watch repeated their call for a UN investigation, accusing the PNP of deliberately targeting children.

62 Caloocan Police Officers were fired in response to the youth killings. Philippine’s National Capital Region Police Director Oscar Albayalde ordered the department re-ordering to show they did not tolerate police crime.

Duterte admitted to stabbing someone to death as a teenager at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Vietnam to justify his administration’s violent approach to cracking down on drugs.

Duterte brought police back into the drug campaign, citing that drug crime is increasing without them.

The number of people killed in anti-drug operations nearly doubled from the previous month.

The UN Human Rights Council released a joint statement supported by 38 member states calling on the Philippines and President Duterte to stop the killings and abuses of the drug war.

Tanauan mayor Antioni Hall was assassinated during a flag raising ceremony. He was the 11th local government official to be killed during the drug war.

Families of drug war victims filed a second petition to the International Criminal Court calling for the indictment of President Duterte for alleged crimes against humanity committed during his drug war.

Senator Trillanes, an outspoken critic of President Duterte, was arrested on charges of rebellion.

Two bombs exploded near a Roman Catholic cathedral in the southern Philippine island of Jolo, which claimed the lives of 15 civilians and five soldiers and wounded 111 others. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Social Weather Station, a social research institution in the Philippines, released their survey findings that 82% of Filipinos were satisfied with Duterte’s drug war. However, 78% were worried that they, or someone they know, might be a victim of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances. Nevertheless, the National Police Chief of the Philippine, General Oscar Albayalde, questioned the validity of the survey, claiming that “It shouldn’t be surprising that 78 percent are afraid of getting killed. Who isn’t afraid to die, anyway?”

 

The Philippines formally withdrew from the International Criminal Court after the country’s highest court refused to overrule Duterte’s decision to do so. 

President Duterte announced he would order the police and military to shoot dead anyone “who creates trouble” during COVID-19 lockdowns on the island of Luzon. “Do not intimidate the government. Do not challenge the government. You will lose,” he added.

After the Philippine seized 756kg of crystal methamphetamine, president Duterte issued a grave threat to drug dealers, “I will kill you,” he said. This occurred a day after the UN found “near impunity” in his drug war.

President Duterte signed the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows for warrantless arrests and for suspects to be jailed without charge for weeks. While the law was intended to prevent and penalize terrorism, human rights groups worry it will be used by Duterte to attack political opponents and restrict free speech.

Duterte announced he wanted to reintroduce the death penalty for drug offenders during his State of the Nation Address.

In a televised interview, President Duterte said that he suspected extrajudicial killings may have occurred under his drug crackdown. He suggested that this was likely due to rivalry between syndicates or for stealing drug money. For years, Duterte’s critics and human rights groups have claimed that extrajudicial killings have taken place. 

Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, stated there is “reasonable basis to believe” that crimes against humanity have
been committed during Duterte’s war on drugs. The resulting report listed murder, torture, and infliction of serious physical injury and mental harm.

In a speech before the UN Human Rights CouncilPhilippine Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra admits that police did not properly examine many weapons used in drug war killings, refuting usual police claims that drug suspects are usually killed after fighting back. 

The Manila Standard has reported on May 25, 2021 that the Philippine national Police will collaborate with DOJ to investigate EJKs, illegal drug operations and other related cases. On Friday, Justice Secretary Menardo Gueverra and PNP Chief Gen.Guillermo Lorenzo Eleazar, discussed these ‘two areas of immediate concern,’ and Guevarra announced that the PNP will be signing an agreement for closer cooperation. ‘What is significant right now is that the DOJ has been given free access [to the 61 cases where clear liability was established], something that did not happen in previous years, thereby making our review rather difficult.’

On Friday, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia positively welcomed the announcement, saying that it ‘is significant in rebuilding confidence and trust in the institution and the government in general.’ She encouraged the PNP ‘to sustain this momentum of fostering a positive attitude towards human rights and translate these commitments into actual effects on the ground.’

 

Bulacan police director Col.Lawrence Cajipe announced that 7 drug suspects were killed in a police shootout and 53 drug suspects were arrested in sting operations in the towns of Pulilan, Bustos, Pandi, Obando, and Balagtas. During the string of separate operations in 21 towns and 3 cities beginning on May 28, 127 plastic sachets of shabu (crystal meth) were also recovered.

On 1 Jun 2021, Police Gen.Guillermo Eleazar stated that the Department of Justice (DOJ) cannot release all of the 61 cases as planned, and only 53 will be released. ‘Through our arrangement with the DOJ, only the resolved cases will be forwarded to them,’ he said. In a public address aired the night before, Duterte said that the drug war documents are not public documents, as they involve national security issues. Justice Sec.Menardo Guevana then acknowledged in response that the justice department will ‘play it by ear.’

In a 57-page report, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda formally requested judicial authorization to investigate the crimes against humanity case filed against President Duterte. She determined that ‘there is a reasonable basis to believe that the crime against humanity of murder has been committed on the territory of the Philippines between July 2016 and March 2019 in the context of the government’s ‘War on Drugs’ campaign.’ Emphasizing that the available information from investigations have confirmed the Philippine National Police’s involvement in these extra-judicial killings, she intends to resolve all cases placed under preliminary investigation under her term.

On 15th June 2021, the ICC called for an investigation into the extrajudicial killings orchestrated by the Duterte government. Despite, Duterte formally withdrawing the Philippines from the ICC in 2019, this investigation is being pursued to hold the government account for the crimes committed between 2016 and 2019 while the Philippines was still a member of the organisation. The ICC has begun to receive submissions from victims to ascertain the full scope of the crimes committed and peoples affected. This move by the ICC has been supported by civil society groups in the Philippines and other international NGOs.

On 6th July 2021, InvestigatePH, an independent and international civil society group, released a 62-page report that outlines a variety of human rights violations carried out by the Duterte government as part of the War on Drugs, its suppression of the Moros (a Muslim minority group), and broad crackdown on dissent in society at large. The Report’s section on the Drug War features several firsthand testimonies, highlights how civil society organisations were unable to seek justice from relevant bureaucratic entities, and describes how the pretext of a war on drugs was used to harass and isolate impoverished communities. The Report details how the police provided incomplete autopsies to obscure the violence they committed, buried victims in mass graves to prevent identification, and intimidated citizens into not filing complaints. The Report makes several relevant recommendations to end this violence. Foremost among them is asking the UN Human Rights Council to become more involved in the Philippines and to protect the publishers of the report and it calls on other countries to suspend police and military training agreements with the Philippines.

On 7th of July 2021, President Duterte announced that he was “seriously thinking” about running for Vice President in the upcoming 2022 election. In the Philippine political system, the Vice President is elected separately from the President. If Duterte were to run for Vice President and win, this would circumvent the presidential term limit. Thus, allowing him to continue pursuing his drug war and extending his political and legal immunities which protect him from consequences of this policy.

On 23rd July 2021, the Philippines signed onto a capacity building program with the United Nations to improve the abilities of the state to promote and protect the human rights within the Philippines. This is a three-year scheme designed to address six areas of engagement revolving around developing better mechanisms of accountability from within state and from civil society and refocusing approaches to terrorism and drug-control with that preserves human rights.

On 13th August 2021, the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) issued a statement encouraging the ICC to pursue its investigation into the human rights violations that have occurred during Duterte’s drug war. They claim that it will be the golden opportunity to uncover the true extent of the damage done by this policy. This support is particularly important as President Duterte nears the end of his presidential term limit.

On 25th August 2021, Rodrigo Duterte announced his plans to run as vice president as his current presidential term is planned to end in 2022. As part of his vice-presidential campaign Duterte is aiming to continue his drug war commenced during his presidential tenure and extend the political protections afforded to him by his position.

On 27th August 2021, the ICC Registry released a report pertaining to the findings from victim submissions gathered in prior months. From the 204 qualified forms collected, 192 indicated that they wanted an investigation to go ahead. The full report can be accessed here.

 On September 13, Investigate PH released its third and final report to the ICC and UNCHR in its bid to persuade the international bodies to commence investigations into the various human rights abuses committed during the War on Drugs policy and other events. The report inspects more systemic causes for these injustices and other trends that accelerate state backed violence like the growing militarisation of policing, particularly relevant to the drug war, and poor social policies that fail to remedy issues like joblessness, homelessness, and workers’ rights. The full report can be accessed here.

On September 15, the International Criminal Court officially commences its investigation into human rights abuses in the Philippines during the Drug War. This is a major win for civil rights activities in the Philippines and serves as the first mechanism for securing justice for those affected by the gross overreach of state violence. However, because Manila exited the ICC the investigation will only cover the length of time this violence was perpetuated while the Philippines was a member of the court – between 1 November 2011 and 16 March 2019.

On September 16, the incumbent Duterte government has announced its refusal to work with the ICC during their probe into human rights abuses that have taken place during the drug war. This open hostility, while not unexpected, is an indication of the future responses likely to come from Manila.

On October 1, the presidential campaigning season begins and Duterte is bound by the Philippines one six-year term limit. Of his possible replacements there are rumours that his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, might join the presidential race last minute. Should she succeed, it would likely that she would use presidential powers to protect her father. Other notable candidate Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., also signalled should he win the presidential race, would continue to advance an anti-drug position.

On October 10, President Duterte announced his intention to retire from politics at the end of his term. Taken at face value, many suspect that his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, will confirm her bid for the 2022 presidency. However, Duterte was only recently considering a run for the Vice-Presidency to prolong his political immunity from the ICC.

On November 10, Rappler broke the story on Davao Death Squad member Arturo Lascañas submitting an extensive report to the ICC as evidence. Lascañas has worked with Duterte to violently police drug users and other perceived undesirables during Duterte’s time as Mayor of Davao. In the affidavit Lascañas highlights that either Duterte or his inner circle would directly order killings. Lascañas made a similar public statement on this issue in 2017 and fled the Philippines at that time to protect himself.

On November 14, multiple political developments are conspiring to allow the architects of the drug war to protect themselves from consequences brought by the ICC probe. The success of the 2022 Marcos-Duterte-Carpio presidential and vice-presidential ticket would nearly guarantee Rodrigo Duterte and his cohort would be protected by the election of the former’s daughter to high office. Reneging on his previous retirement announcement, Rodrigo Duterte has sent a last-minute bid to run for a seat in the Senate – a last ditch attempt at keeping direct political power. As of December 2021, Duterte has renounced his bid to the senate.

On November 20, following a request from Manila to run their own investigations into the Drug War, the ICC has suspended its investigation into the war on drugs. This deferral has come with the provision that the Duterte government is investigating the claims of supposed crimes against humanity, although the ICC be able to monitor this investigation.

On November 22, The Free Legal Assistant Group, a civil society organisation of lawyers, have implored that the ICC suspends the suspension of its investigation into the war on drugs. They insist that the investigation being performed by the government is ineffectual for multitude of reasons stemming from the limited scope of the investigation. The timeframe excludes Duterte’s mayoral tenure in Davao, the cases included in the investigation represent only a fraction of the killings, there is a lack of interviews with victims and other government agencies are not providing sufficient information, and when these investigations to find incidents of wrongdoing they are not being referred to the court.

International organisation, Human Rights Watch have also issued a statement, urging the ICC to resume the investigation.

On December 15, President Duterte has ordered the Department of the Interior and Local Government to compile a report on the volume of drugs seized throughout the length of the war on drugs. This tabulation is aimed to demonstrate to the ICC that the extreme methods used over the course of his presidency to curtail the trafficking of illicit substances was necessary. However, this development is very confusing considering the stated position of Duterte which explicitly rejects the ICC investigation.

On January 4, President Duterte refused to apologise for the war on drugs. He framed this refusal as a corner stone of the law-and-order platform on which he was elected and the extrajudicial killings as an essential component of his tough on crime persona. Despite the strength of this statement, there is still a narrow opportunity for Rodrigo Duterte to for international law to intervene depending on the winner of 2022 Presidential Elections happening in May.

On January 13, Leni Robredo announced that should she win the presidential election in 2022 she would continue to fight against illicit drugs in the Philippines but do away with the extreme violence which has characterised President Duterte’s effort. In 2019 she was appointed to co-lead the joint task force to eliminate the illicit drug trade in the Philippines and was dismissed from that role within 3 weeks of her appointment, due to her loud opposition to the methods used. In 2020 Robredo had publicly published the 40-page document of recommendations written during her time on the task force.

On January 17, Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro, a candidate for the upcoming 2022 senate elections and former secretary of defence, announced his opposition of the ICC probe against president Duterte and he would make it an objective to obstruct this process should he win a seat in the senate. He justified this stance that countries that require ICC intervention have weak institutions, and that he would rather improve the capacity of these systems at home rather than have an international involvement. Furthermore, Gibo has also received endorsements from Vice Presidential Candidate Sara Duterte and appeared on her livestream show Sara For You All.

On January 26, three Catholic priests have issued public statements cautioning the public against voting for Marcos Jr. in the upcoming election. They drew parallels between the period of martial law ushered in by President Marcos and killings brought about by Duterte’s drug war – which Marcos Jr. aims to continue should he win. The Church has played an influential role in mobilising support for the People Power Revolution in 1986 which saw Ferdinand Marcos removed from power and the end of martial law.

On January 27, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. stated he would bar the ICC investigation into the drug war should he win the election. He justified this stance by saying such an international intervention would undermine the sovereignty of the Philippines. He went further to say that he will change tact and to invest in rehabilitation services. However, Marcos Jr.’s statements sidestep the reason for the investigation – the mass violation of human rights – a fact he has yet to address.

On February 4, the 5-year term of burial site leases are ending and the families of victims of the drug war cannot afford to continue to pay them. Consequently, the bodies are being exhumed. Catholic priests are leading programs that attempt to raise funds for families to arrange cremations for the deceased and other assistance for the widows and orphans created by the drug war.

On February 9, Leila de Lima confirmed her campaign to run for the Senate in the May elections. de Lima was the human rights commissioner in Benigno Aquino’s administration and won a senate seat in the 2016 elections. One of her major projects was an investigation into Duterte’s mayoral tenure in Davao. With the ascension of Duterte to the presidency in 2016, de Lima was arrested, and then jailed, for allegedly violating the drug trafficking law – many believe this arrest was politically motivated. She will be running her campaign from her detention centre. A major feature of her campaign will be to correct the illiberalism that has been fostered during the Duterte presidency.

On February 17, the European Parliament passed a resolution on the human rights violations in the Philippines. The seven-page document sweeps across the variety of human rights abuses that have occurred while prosecuting the war on drugs and other acts of state endorsed violence like the harassing of journalists or illegal detainment of political opponents. The resolution makes clear that should the Philippines not correct these policy decisions, Manilla risks losing its General Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status which would effectively shut Filipino exports out of the vast European market. The full text of the resolution can be read here.

On February 26, CNN Philippines hosted the Vice-Presidential Debate and during the televised event all but one of the candidates in attendance supported the Philippines re-joining and cooperating with the ICC’s investigation into President Duterte’s war on drugs. Sarah Duterte declined to attend the debate. The full debate can be watched here – the question on the drug war begins at 1:15:00.

On March 4, the Department of Justice ordered the filing of murder and planting of evidence charges against three police officers connected to the killing of a Spanish national, Diego Lafuente, in 2020. Lafuente was identified by police as being an important figure in the local drug trade. The official report claimed Lafuente violently resisted arrest and was killed in a shootout with police. However, the police report was not substantiated with independent eyewitness accounts. Further forensic investigation and inconsistences between the statements of the officers disproves the claim that a shootout occurred.

The Philippines National Police (PNP) launched the Anti-Illegal Drug Operation through Reinforcement and Education (ADORE), which has been marketed as the final operational shift within the war on drugs. ADORE aims to be a state-backed rehabilitation program that reframes substance abuse as a treatable medical condition. PNP aims to use the program to perform outreach into drug-affected communities and support the growth of the healthcare system. ADORE is intended to operate in conjunction with the pre-existing anti-illegal drug taskforces implemented throughout the Duterte presidency.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has launched an investigation into allegations of falsified death certificates. Examination of the remains of 46 people who were killed in the first year of the drug war has revealed significant discrepancies between the stated cause of death on the certificate and the physical evidence in seven cases. For example, victims that had died from gunshot wounds were listed as having died from natural causes like pneumonia or heart attacks. Additionally, several certificates were incomplete, and one certificate was missing. Of the 46 victims that were exhumed, at least 32 died of gunshot wounds and at least 24 people were shot in the head. This physical evidence contradicts the official police directives to only kill in self-defence. 

Polling suggests that the two favourites for the impending election are Ferdinand Marcos Jnr and Vice President Leni Robredo. While Ms Robredo is a human rights lawyer and current Vice President, Marcos Jnr is the son of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Snr, who ruled the Philippines from 1965 to 1986.

Hundreds of thousands of people have attended political rallies in the Philippines today where presidential candidates are making last minute
speeches to sway undecided voters. The two front runners are Ferdinand Marcos Jnr and Vice President Leni Robredo. 

Ferdinand Marcos Jnr has won a landslide victory to become the next President of the Philippines. The victory is the first majority victory since 1986, the same election that toppled his dictator father, Marcos Snr. This represents a once unthinkable return to power for the Marcos family after Marcos Snr was ousted from power and sent into exile after a twenty year rule.

The victor of yesterday’s election in the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, has used a speech to promise to work for all in the Philippines and to judge him on his actions, not his families past. The incoming Presidents
father, Marcos Snr, ruled the Philippines as dictator for twenty years and was notorious for human rights abuses and corruption. 

Outgoing President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte is unlikely to face trial for the thousands of killings during his administrations war on drugs. This comes as his daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, becomes Vice President, meaning that Duterte is likely to be protected by the incoming
government.

President-elect, Ferdinand Marcos Jnr is on track to command a large majority in Congress, increasing his chances of advancing his legislative agenda. This comes as the incoming President has promised to focus on targeting ‘bigger fish’ in the Philippine drugs trade rather than users.

A joint session of the Philippines Congress has declared Ferdinand Marcos Jnr as the official winner of the national election. The proclamation formalises the election victory from earlier this month. The incoming President will officially take power on 30 June.

It has been reported that books about the incoming Presidents late father, Ferdinand Marcos Snr, are being bought on mass with fears that the new President will attempt to ban all evidence of his father’s reign. This comes as the Marcos family has long attempted the rehabilitation of its name, after Marcos Snr’s reign was mired in corruption and human rights abuses.

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s latest data has revealed that a total of 6,248 suspects were killed and 341,494 suspects were arrested in the 236,620 drug war operations since 2016. Human rights advocates claim that the unofficial death toll is much
higher.

United States government officials will meet with President Marcos Jnr to discuss a range of issues, including human rights in the Philippines. This raises hope that the US will pressure the new President to take a more humane approach to drug users.

The daughter of the former president, Sara Duterte-Carpio, has been sworn in as Vice President of the Philippines. It remains to be seen whether this has any influence on the government policy relating to the countries war on drugs.

Former President Rodrigo Duterte has criticised the International Criminal Court’s decision to reopen the investigation into killings during the government’s crackdown on drugs. While the Philippines withdrew from the ICC in 2019, the court still has jurisdiction for
events between 2011 and the year of withdrawal.

Maria Ressa, the head of the Rappler news website, has said that they were continuing to operate while Philippine courts will decide whether a government order to close the outlet is legal. The website has been critical of former President Rodrigo Duterte and the country’s deadly drug crackdown. Earlier in the week the government moved to strip Rappler news of its license in response to this criticism.

Ferdinand Marcos Jnr has promised to “deliver for all Filipinos” during his inauguration speech. Marcos Jnr also used the speech to praise his father, Marcos Snr, who ruled the Philippines as dictator between 1965 to 1986. This comes as human rights activists fear that this is another move by the new President to white wash the dark history of the Philippines under his father.

Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, the son of former dictator, Marcos Snr, has begun his term as president of the Philippines 36 years after his father was overthrown. The new president has promised to “strive for unity and a better future” while also praising his father’s legacy.

Filipino Nobel peace prize winner, Maria Ressa, has lost her appeal against a conviction for cyber libel according to her news website, Rappler. Ressa now faces a lengthy jail sentence but Rappler has vowed to take this to the supreme court. While these charges were brought by the former president, it is a disturbing development in terms of human rights under the new President, Marcos Jnr

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has condemned a decision by a court in the Philippines to uphold the conviction of Nobel prize winner Maria Ressa. Clooney has also called on the new President, Macros Jnr, to “stop the rot” and stop attacks on journalists.

The Philippines Supreme Court has acquitted former President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on charges of plunder. Ms Arroyo was charged with misusing $366 million of lottery funds intended for charities.

Three people have died in a shooting in Manilla, including a former mayor of the southern city of Lamitan city, Rose Furigay. Police claim that this was an assassination and raises questions over whether gun violence will continue under President Marcos Jnr.

The Philippine House of Representatives have elected President Marcos Jnr’s son, Sandro Marcos, to the post of senior deputy majority leader. While Sandro was elected, it raised concerns about nepotism in Filipino politics under the new Marcos regime.

A 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck the northern Philippine island of Luzon, killing at least five people, damaging buildings. Authorities report that at least 64 people were injured and 173 buildings damaged.

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