The Peculiarities Of War On Drugs In Philippines

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The start of the Duterte administration was the beginning of the campaign on war on drugs in the Philippines (Kishi, Pavlik, & Constantino, 2019) . According to Simbulan, Dioquino-Maligaso, Herbosa and Withers (2019), The Philippines has 1,8 million current drug users and 4,8 million Filipinos have reported utilizing illegal drugs at least once in their lives. This alarmed the Duterte administration in which his war on drugs campaign started.

However, on Duterte’s war on drug campaign, it first, resulted to extra-judicial killings, which violated the basic human rights of a person. According to Delizo (2019), during the execution of anti-illegal drug campaign, a total of 6,600 drug suspects were killed, but based on the report of the human rights watch, it is just only half of the total number of alleged drug users and pushers. The data presented by the different side shows that there is an anomaly going on regarding the war on drugs. These large scale killings were popularly known as extra-judicial killings. EJK was defined by Trajano, secretary general of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates as “any death sanctioned or with the acquiescence of the government outside the due process or the rule of law” (Patag, 2019). The attention of various groups and sectors in society, including the international community was then hooked by the rise of violations of human rights, especially the rise in state-perpetrated and vigilante-style killings (Simbulan, Dioquino-Maligaso, Herbosa and Withers, 2019).

The EJK clearly illustrates that many suspected drug users were killed by vigilantes without due process. Just because they were said to be “involved with illegal drugs”, they were already shot by unknown gunmans and others were killed during police operations because the suspects are “nanlaban” to the police officers.” In relation to this, as stated on Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and that everyone charged with a criminal offense shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law as per stated in Article 11.

Second, it is anti-poor. As cited by Kine (2017), drug lords and drug pushers are the President’s priority on war on drugs, but deaths of mostly poor people accused of being drug users who are either unemployed and living in slum communities or informal settlers was the result to many of the drug-related killings. The most common illegal drug used in the Philippines is metamphetamine, also known as shabu or the “poor man’s cocaine” (Simbulan et. al., 2019). In addition to that, Johnson and Fernquest (2018) stated that aside from the harm methamphetamine causes, it also performs positive functions, particularly for the poor. It empowers long hours of manual labourers to work, soothes hunger, and offers an emotional refuge from the harsh conditions of everyday life faced by millions of Filipinos.

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From the mentioned statements, it can be inferred that majority of the accused drug users came from poor families, where some use it to provide for their physical and emotional needs. But it is due to this reason that many poor alleged drug suspects were killed while big time drug peddlers were not that much given of attention. Furthermore, as mentioned on the press release of the 18th Congress of the Senate of the Philippines (2018), the lack of reply to the trafficking of shabu worth billions of pesos compared to its impunity in killing suspected pushers and abusers in the small-time is biggest issue in the drug war of the Duterte administration which Malacañang fails to answer. It was also mentioned that there is a nagging trend indicating the disinterest of Duterte in pursuing these big-time smugglers and lords of drugs. First, there is a denial, and then a whitewash.

Hence, war on drugs is not good for the country and its people as it violates human rights and it is anti-poor. The war on drugs violated the right to life and right to due process of the alleged drug users and drug pushers as they were killed by the police during the operations, and some vigilantes, resulting in the so called “extra-judicial killings”. Moreover, majority of the victims came from poor families while only few of the “drug lords” were arrested. This strongly shows how inefficient the war on drugs is.

On the contrary, the war on drugs ,first, decreased the number of illegal drug users. 66 percent of the poll released by the Social Weather Stations in the last quarter of 2018 agreed that illegal drug users lessened, as the Philippine National Police believes that the Duterte administration's war on drugs is working (News, ABS-CBN, 2019). From the report of (2019), out of the 134,583 anti-drug operations conducted, there were 193,086 drug personalities arrested, 334 drug dens dismantled, 4,409.69 kilos of shabu seized, 13,753 barangays were declared drug-cleared, and there were 421,724 surrenderers in reformation programs. These data illustrates that the war on drugs was effective in combating illegal drug usage and operations, which highly affects the way of living of the individuals. In addition, the campaign also gives chance to previous drug users to have theirselves rehabilitated, while it discourages future drug users to engage in illegal drugs.

Secondly, the war on drugs decreased the rate of crime in the country. The Duterte administration’s anti-illegal drug campaign was recognized by the National Capital Region Police Office because of the lowering of crime rate from January to June 2018 by 25 percent as compared to the previous year (Reysio-Cruz, 2018). It indicates that some of the drug users caused crime, and due to the campaign of the President which arrested lots of drug users, they were lessened. Not only that the war on drugs lessened the criminals, but also made the country safer, and step-by-step eliminating the illegal drugs that occurred and widely spread which reached people who should not be using those.

In conclusion, war on drugs is beneficial to the country as it lowered the number of illegal drug users and the crime rate. It lowered the number of illegal drug users as many were arrested and some are undergoing rehabilitation. On the other hand, it decreased the crime rate which made the Philippines safer. As long as the war on drugs continue, the Philippines will get better as a country with minimal number to none drug users and peddlers.


  1. 18th Congress of the Senate of the Philippines. (2018, October 24). Press Release - Sen. Leila M. de Lima's statement on the Philippines as Duterte's Narco-State. Retrieved November 5, 2019, from
  2. Delizo, M. J. (2019, June 18). ABS-CBN. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from
  3. Johnson, D. T., & Fernquest, J. (2018). Governing through Killing: The War on Drugs in the Philippines. Asian Journal of Law and Society, 5(2), 359–390. doi: 10.1017/als.2018.12
  4. Kine, P. (2017, July 13). 'License to Kill': Philippine Police Killings in Duterte's 'War on Drugs'. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from
  5. Kishi, R., Pavlik, M., Vina, R. L., & Constantino, M. (2019, February 13). Duterte's War: Drug-Related Violence in the Philippines. Retrieved November 5, 2019, from
  6. News, A. B. S.-C. B. N. (2019, February 17). War on drugs is working, says PNP; touts survey results. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from
  7. Patag, K. J. (2019, July 19). Why defining 'extrajudicial killings' in law is a vital step toward accountability. Retrieved November 5, 2019, from
  8. (2019, September 22). IN NUMBERS: The Philippines' 'war on drugs'. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from
  9. Reysio-Cruz, M. (2018, July 4). NCRPO: 25% drop in crime rate due to drug war. Retrieved November 4, 2019, from
  10. Simbulan, N., Estacio, L., Dioquino-Maligaso, C., Herbosa, T. and Withers, M.,(2019). The Manila Declaration on the Drug Problem in the Philippines.Annals of Global Health, 85(1), 26. DOI:
  11. Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2019, from
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