Since taking office on June 30, 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has carried out a “war on drugs” that has led to the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos to date, mostly urban poor. At least 2,555 of the killings have been attributed to the Philippine National Police. Duterte and other senior officials have instigated and incited the killings in a campaign that could amount to crimes against humanity.
Human Rights Watch research has found that police are falsifying evidence to justify the unlawful killings. Despite growing calls for an investigation, Duterte has vowed to continue the campaign.
Large-scale extrajudicial violence as a crime solution was a marker of Duterte’s 22-year tenure as mayor of Davao City and the cornerstone of his presidential campaign. On the eve of his May 9, 2016 election victory, Duterte told a crowd of more than 300,000: “If I make it to the presidential palace I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, holdup men, and do-nothings, you better get out because I'll kill you.”