Philippines: 32 killed in a day as Duterte's 'war on drugs' hits new levels of barbarity

After Philippine police killed 32 people in what is believed to be the highest death toll in a single day in President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called “war on drugs”, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, James Gomez, said:

“These shocking deaths are a reminder that President Duterte’s lawless ‘war on drugs’ continues unabated and actually appears to be plumbing new depths of barbarity, with police routinely gunning down suspects, violating the key right to life and completely flouting due process.

“No one is bearing the brunt of this brutality more than the poorest communities in areas such as Bulacan province, a hotspot for extrajudicial executions since the president took power, and the scene of 21 of yesterday’s 32 killings.

“Duterte‘s recent statement that he might not be able to solve the Philippines’ drug-related problems during his current term are very concerning. With the indefinite extension of this failed strategy there is seemingly no end in sight to these killings.

“Coupled with Duterte’s troubling threat last month to abolish the country’s Human Rights Commission, the single institution that is carrying out thorough investigations into extrajudicial executions, it appears that human rights in the Philippines are in more peril than at any point since the president’s bloody reign began.”

“This shows clearly that there should be no further delay in establishing an internationally led investigation into the ‘war on drugs’ and the carnage currently taking place in the Philippines on a daily basis.”


Since assuming the presidency of the Philippines in June 2016, Rodrigo Duterte and his administration have presided over widespread human rights violations in the ‘war on drugs’, intimidated and imprisoned critics and created a climate of lawlessness.

Using the highest office in the country, Duterte has explicitly approved and encouraged violence that has involved thousands of extrajudicial executions in the government’s anti-drug campaign.

In its January 2017 report “If you are poor you are killed,” Amnesty International detailed how the Philippines police have killed, and paid others to kill, thousands of alleged drug offenders in a wave of extrajudicial executions that may amount to crimes against humanity.