Marcos praises alleged successes of anti-drug campaign

14. February 2024 | "War on Drugs", Human Rights News

In its new anti-drug campaign of 2022, the so-called “BIDA” programme, the Philippine government under President Marcos Jr. has placed a central focus on rehabilitation and reducing the demand for drugs in the fight against illegal drugs. On January 9, 2024, the President announced the successes of the BIDA programme in a video message on social media. In his speech, Marcos praised in particular the indictment of over 170 police officers for alleged drug offences, which are said to include the planting of evidence, unlawful arrests and excessive violence. Carlos Conde from Human Rights Watch (HRW) considers the approach as a positive move into the right direction but emphasizes that it is important to stop impunity and ensure accountability. As early as 2023, the President warned the Philippine National Police (PNP) to maintain zero tolerance for corruption and human rights violations.

A Sky report from January 2024 also emphasized that drug-related killings have decreased in overall numbers under President Marcos but continue to take place. In 2023, the government announced official statistics: According to PNP Chief Benjamin C. Acorda Jr., 73 people died in the 100 days between April and August 2023 as a result of anti-drug police operations. On the contrary, the documentation of the DAHAS university project recorded 331 drug-related killings for the year 2023. According to DAHAS, there were already 535 drug-related killings between Marcos taking office in June 2022 and February 5, 2024.

President Marcos is also trying to strengthen existing institutions to deal with cases of extrajudicial killings. In January 2024, the Department of Justice announced that it would revise the operational guidelines of Administrative Order No. 35 of 2012 (AO35), a mechanism for investigating extrajudicial killings and human rights violations. The planned changes are intended to involve prosecutors in investigations from the outset in order to handle cases of human rights violations more effectively. UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan, strongly criticized the effectiveness of the AO35 during her trip to the Philippines in early 2024 and described its investigations as extremely inadequate.


Photo © Raffy Lerma

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