The Philippines’ 45th president, Rodrigo Duterte, has quickly ascended to the top of the world’s rankings of drugs war vigilantes and criminal conflagration. He came into office on June 30, 2016, pledging to reduce crime in the country by 30 percent and root out corruption. Since the start of his tenure, a marked rise in drug-related killings has overshadowed his many other important initiatives to improve the lives of Filipinos. Since the Duterte administration came into office, 6,000 people, including at least 500 teenagers, have been killed by police under his watch. According to an attorney and a Filipino organization called the Philippine Centre for Law and Justice, more than 1,200 of those killed were gunned down during police operations, which means that they are also illegal killings.
The organization claims that police who are implicated in the killings should be charged with first-degree murder under the Philippine justice system, a charge punishable by up to 30 years in prison. Since the start of Duterte’s presidency, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have also accused the police of extrajudicial killings.
Duterte’s presidency is largely controversial, but his strong leadership is often credited for improving the economy, including the addition of four million new citizens.