By Federico Segarra
Manila, Oct 19 (EFE).- The operation against drug trafficking started during the mandate of former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, which left thousands dead and an investigation by the International Criminal Court, continues with the government of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
More than 90 people have been killed in police drug raids since he came to power three months ago, according to investigators.
The current president of the Philippines, “Bongbong” Marcos, son of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, defended changing the course of police operations against drug trafficking after winning the elections in May, and advocated harshly persecuting only traffickers, and not consumers, as Duterte did.
Aware of the international pressure to end Duterte’s brutal anti-drug campaign, which left more than 30,000 dead according to various NGOs, Marcos Jr. even spoke of “rehabilitating” drug addicts.
However, since he was sworn in as head of state on Jun. 30, 93 people have died in anti-drug police raids as of Oct. 7, more deaths than during the second quarter of 2022, the last of Duterte in power, according to the Dahas Project, from the University of the Philippines.
These are significantly higher figures than before Duterte came to power in 2016, the research center said.
“The only difference is that now no one admits responsibility for deaths in police raids,” the director of Human Rights Watch in the Philippines, Carlos Conde, told EFE, referring to Duterte, who publicly encouraged the police to “liquidate” drug addicts and traffickers and promised to defend executioners.
The Dahas Project, which has been scrutinizing the drug war since 2017 based on local media reports, admits that in this new stage “there is no way of knowing” if the deaths occur in conditions similar to those of Duterte’s brutal campaign.
At that time, many of the victims were executed by parapolice agents or brigades known as “death squads.”
Now, Marcos Jr. is seeking a delicate balance between admitting the excesses of the previous administration without undermining his alliance with former President Duterte, whom he relied on to rise to power and whose daughter, Sara Duterte, is the country’s vice president.
Marcos is also trying to recover good relations with some of its fundamental partners, such as the United States, damaged during the Duterte term, and he said in an interview in September that the “men” of the former president “sometimes went too far.” EFE