The drug war in the Philippines continues to be a horrifying look at how political rhetoric can turn into increased corruption and human rights violations. When President Duterte took office, there was no illusion or deception. He proudly bragged about killing criminals before and said that his focus as president would be to rid the country of its drug problem. This war on drugs has resulted in over a million arrests, and thousands of murders and deaths.
Despite the fear and great rise in the number of killings in the nation, the war on drugs remains popular throughout the Philippines. While citizens may not condone killings, they see it as a necessary evil to rid their nation of corruption and crime. While this may be the popular view, in fact the strict enforcement and rhetoric has resulted in a 51% increase in murders. Vigilantism is on the rise in the Philippines with many people taking justice into their own hands to rid their neighborhoods of drug users and sellers. Duterte’s promise to pardon all officers who kill a citizen while doing their duty has brought on corruption within the police force. Killings are hardly investigated and every attempt is made to keep journalists, especially international journalists, from the scene of the crime. Human rights are being violated in this attempt to rid the country of criminals. It has become a “war on the poor” as users are the only ones being punished and corrupt politicians receive no punishment.