The Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’: What will change after Duterte? | DW News

Former Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called ‘war on drugs’ killed thousands. The government says a little over 6,000 people were killed in legitimate anti-drug operations. Rights groups however dispute both claims – that of legitimacy and the number of those killed. It prompted the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into the Drugs War. But some concerned Filipinos are already carrying out their own investigations. And their findings are troubling. A forensic pathologist and a priest are uncovering evidence of execution-style killings of people allegedly involved in the drugs trade. Exhuming remains and delivering accurate death documents, they have helped Philippine families to gather new evidence.
But pursuing justice for Philippine drug war victims is very difficult.

Former Philippines president Rodrigo
duterte’s so-called war on drugs killed
thousands the government says a little
over 6 000 people were killed in
legitimate anti-drug operations
rights groups however dispute both
claims that of legitimacy and the number
of those killed
it prompted the international criminal
court to open an investigation into the
drugs war but some concerned filipinos
are already carrying out their own
investigations and their findings are
troubling
each of these skeletons has a story to
tell
the story of a war on drugs the
philippine government fought over the
past six years
officially some six thousand two hundred
people were killed by police for dealing
with drugs
the true toll is nearly certainly much
bigger and the x-ratio due to bullets
with the remains
okay and i i’m just so happy that it was
they were not lost
they were not lost so two bullets came
with that
examining the remains of some of the
people who died forensic pathologist
raquel fortune made a shocking discovery
in seven cases out of 47 the death
certificates were false
they listed a natural cause of death
when people had actually been shot
the philippines procedures for
investigating death says the 60 year old
have always been flawed
but here comes
duterte as president in 2016 and he
simply took advantage of it
it’s been happening before
but in 2016
the killings actually escalated
right now it’s not safe to actually walk
around because somebody can just shoot
you
and the police
are not doing anything
because they don’t know how
they can or they won’t and some of the
killings actually are
perpetrated by
you know they’re the perps
they did it they did it
many families in the philippines have
experienced this kind of scenario
hitmen approaching at night to shoot a
loved one
then evidence of drug abuse is planted
says grace
she lost her father and brother six
years ago
the mother of three now hopes that dr
fortune will shed more light on what
actually happened
when
when the
civilian
is shouting
give
my father
one shot again
to sure
she’s the he’s dead
the the civilian planted my father
gone
uh
two pieces of drug sachet
and money
that’s why if you have a gun is fight
back
that’s the reason that my father killed
because it’s but fight back
the poor were the primary victims of the
war on drugs
the international criminal court
estimates that up to thirty thousand
people more than four times the official
number were killed on former president
duterte’s watch
many relatives now want to set the
record straight
this catholic priest is doing his part
to support them
referent flaviano villanueva pays for
the exhumations and for legal advice
he fears that the killings even with
duterte gone are far from over
in the past two weeks
we have counted at least
eight or nine
killings
to this
very present day
my point
there’s no difference between back then
and today
to make matters worse i believe that the
culture of killing has not only been
ingrained
but it has also become sadly
an organized enterprise
so
the war on drugs
is a complete failure
if it has one
success it left families
broken
without an orphan
the drugs continue
the drugs are cheaper these days
dr fortune is convinced that the true
toll of the war on drugs will never come
to light
too many of those who lost their lives
remain unidentified and unclaimed
but she hopes that her discoveries will
bring a semblance of justice
to the families who remain behind
joining me now for more is journalist
anna santos who has covered former
president rodrigo duterte’s war on drugs
anna welcome we have a situation here
where you have authorities who have
essentially falsified evidence to
potentially hide guilt
can people realistically expect justice
when it’s the authorities themselves who
are involved
perez right now i think that justice is
going to be very difficult and we talk
about justice you know in the sense of
accountability and bringing those people
responsible to account that’s going to
be really difficult right now number one
we have president marcos jr and
duterte’s daughter sarah duterte as vice
president they’re seen very much as
continuity candidates and continuity
legislators so we see them as continuing
the policies of the duterte
administration including the war on
drugs second to that there have been
pronouncements by the philippine
national police and also the law
enforcement authorities saying that
they’re very happy with how the war on
drugs was carried out under the duterte
administration and they have asked
president marcos jr to carry out the
same policy and even intensify it so
it’s going to be a very difficult
environment for justice because we see a
lot of impunity still happening under
this government just help us understand
why it is so easy to be able to falsify
a death in the philippines you have to
remember that the war on drugs was
really categorically targeting a lot of
the poor young men
all right they live in enchanted
communities and in these communities
they would be gunned down in their homes
for example by mass vigilantes or
sometimes they would go missing you know
we’ve spoken to relatives who would hunt
for for their for their loved ones for a
whole evening and finally find them in
some morgue now their bodies would not
be released to them if they didn’t sign
off on a medical certificate that just
said another cause of death like a
natural
disease like pneumonia or something like
this so that was the predicament that
these families faced now what would you
do if you had like you wanted to claim
you the body of your loved one you were
scared you didn’t have money to pay for
a proper autopsy
that’s that’s wouldn’t you just sign off
on this paper just to be able to grieve
onwards
what has it been like for the
relatives of these people who have been
killed i mean i know you’ve met many of
them they just demonstrated what has it
been like for them to lose a member of
their family
indescribable
i think would be the best way to to say
that there’s no words for how they would
just
lose their loved ones
we have met mothers who have lost
two three sons
to the drug war
and can you just imagine what that would
feel like for someone to just have your
sons gunned down like that like they
meant nothing
so i think now more than justice yes we
will continue to fight for that and
human rights advocates and the families
of the grieving have said that they will
continue to advocate and fight for
justice
but in the meantime what they want now
is the right to grieve
the right for their loved ones to be
remembered and in so remembering
none of us will forget the extrajudicial
killings and gross human rights
violations under the duterte
administration and which may carry out
through the marcus duterte
administration now
anna santos we leave it there thanks so
much for coming into the studio, thank
you .

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