Responding to the news that President Duterte has ordered the police to resume their role in supporting his administration’s so-called “war on drugs,” James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:
“In returning police to his anti-drug operations yet again, President Duterte has consigned the poorest and most marginalised people in the Philippines to another catastrophic wave of violence, misery and bloodshed.
“Since the police were withdrawn from anti-drug operations in October, there has been a marked decline in the number of deaths resulting from these operations. We can only expect that to reverse, as the police have the opportunity to pick up where they left off and resume their indiscriminate killing with impunity.
“It is now time for international justice mechanisms including the International Criminal Court to step in where the Philippines’ criminal justice system has failed. The ICC should open a preliminary examination into the thousands of unlawful killings that have taken place, which may constitute crimes against humanity. Those responsible, including those who ordered the killings, must be brought to justice.”
On 12 October 2017, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte reduced the police’s role in drug-related operations in favour of the Drug Enforcement Agency. On 22 November however, President Duterte said in a national speech that he was considering revising that decision.
This is the second time the police have been removed, then reinstated to the anti-drug operations. The last time the police were removed from operations was in January 2017, before their re-involvement in March 2017.
The Drug Enforcement Agency is mandated under the law to enforce all legal provisions on prohibited drugs.