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Reacting to the news that the Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte is again considering expanding the role of the police in his administration’s “war on drugs”, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

“The return of the police’s involvement in the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’ would be a human rights disaster. Since President Duterte took power, the police have unlawfully killed thousands of people in anti-drug operations, with the vast majority of victims being from poor and marginalized communities. The police’s return to these operations could mean many more deaths.

“There has been a reduction in killings since the government pulled the police off drug operations last month, placing the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency as the sole agency responsible for the anti-drug campaign. What the Philippines needs is not an expansion of the murderous ‘war on drugs,’ led by police who show no sign of reform, but a public health-based drug policy that respects human rights and the rule of law.

“There must also be accountability for the thousands of killings carried out already, and that all those responsible – including police officers and those who gave the orders – should be brought to justice.”

Background

On October 12, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte reduced the police’s role in drug-related operations in favor of the Drug Enforcement Agency. On November 22, however, President Duterte said in a national speech that he was considering revising that decision.

The Drug Enforcement Agency is mandated under the law to enforce all legal provisions on prohibited drugs.