Revamping the Drug War in the Philippines

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and US President Donald Trump discuss matters during a bilateral meeting at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City on November 13, 2017. ROBINSON NIÑAL JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is reviving his drug war, a reboot the government is calling “Operation Double Barrels Reloaded.” The violent campaign against domestic citizens accused of drug crimes has already killed 46 people in the two months that it has been active again.

The campaign was put on hold temporarily in October, but now has come back with full force of a second drug war, a sequel to the first bloody segment of the campaign.

Operation Double Barrel, the first wave of violence against civilians accused of drug crimes, claimed almost 4,000 lives, including children, according to reports from the police. The actual number could be much higher according to Human Rights Watch, who says the number could be more than 12,000 if the killings of vigilante groups are counted. These killings all occur with the blessing of Duterte himself.

So far, the revamp has enacted over 3,000 raids. The drug war lost public support when police were caught lying about the circumstances surrounding a situation in which three teenagers lost their lives, most notably 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos.

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The police first claimed he lost his life during a shootout until video evidence emerged showing the officers handing Kian a weapon and ordering him to run. When Kian turned around, the police shot him twice in the back  It eventually came out that the boy had been misidentified as a drug seller by a police informant all along.

These sort of lies and misdirection surrounding killings has cast doubt on the official numbers offered by Philippine police and condemnation from many countries and leader around the world.

While many say the United Nations response to the drug war has been too mild, United States President Donald Trump has praised Duterte for his violent campaign to stop drug use, trafficking, and sales. An end to the brutal violence to end drug trafficking shows no signs of coming to an end.