Marcos: ‘There were abuses’ in Duterte's ‘drug war’

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Marcos: �There were abuses� in Duterte's �drug war�
Incoming Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr (L) and outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte (C) take part in the inauguration ceremony for Marcos at the Malacanang presidential palace grounds in Manila on June 30, 2022. The son of the Philippines' late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was to be sworn in as president on June 30, completing a decades-long effort to restore the clan to the country's highest office.
Francis R. Malasig / Pool / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. acknowledged that “abuses” did happen during the course of the “war on drugs” waged by his predecessor, former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Marcos said Thursday in Washington that these abuses happened because of the Duterte administration’s focus on law enforcement in combating illegal drugs, which the incumbent president said has been taken “as far as we can.”

“What had happened in the previous administration is that we focused very much on enforcement. And because of that, it could be said there were abuses by certain elements of the government that has caused some concern in many quarters about the human rights situation in the Philippines,” Marcos said at a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Domestic processes on 'drug war' cases

While this is the farthest that Marcos has come in acknowledging the reported abuses in Duterte's “war on drugs,” his administration still refuses to cooperate with the International Criminal Court that is investigating crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the anti-drug campaign.

The Marcos administration, however, has sent communications with the ICC including appeals against decisions it deems unfavorable to the Philippines and requests to suspend and scrap its investigation altogether.

But that was until Marcos said in March that the country is “disengaging” with the international tribunal. 

No submissions from the Philippine government have come forth since then, but the Department of Foreign Affairs, in a letter to the Senate justice committee, cited Marcos’ statement as basis for not sending out invites to ICC probers on behalf of the panel.

New strategy

Marcos said in the forum that illegal drugs continue to be “the source of much criminality” in the Philippines, remarking that “syndicates have grown stronger and wealthier and more influential.”

“But instead of going after everyone, we have tried to identify the key areas that we have to tackle, the key areas that we have to attend to so that we can see a diminution of the activity of the drug syndicates,” Marcos said.

He said this includes a purge among the top brass of the police force who were asked by the government to submit courtesy resignations and be subject to investigations on their links to the illegal drug trade, which has so far led to the dismissal of two police generals and two police colonels.

Apart from this, Marcos also stressed the need for rehabilitation of people who use drugs and a “reeducation” campaign aimed to steer the youth away from drug use.

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