Marcos admits ‘abuses’ linked to Duterte’s drug war

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 5) — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the previous administration’s focus to enforce purging the country of illegal drugs led to the “abuses” that put the spotlight on the Philippines’ human rights situation.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies forum on Friday, Marcos was asked how his administration would tackle human rights abuses that were “allowed” during the leadership of his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.

“I think most of the discussions that are critical of the human rights situation of the Philippines derive from the policy that we undertook to fight the drug war,” he said.

“Perhaps, in my view, what happened in the previous administration was we focused very much on enforcement, and because of that, it could be said that there were abuses by certain elements in the government that have caused concerns from many quarters in about the human right situation of the Philippines,” Marcos said.

The bloody drug war of Duterte gained the attention of not just the foreign media and criticism from different organizations, but also the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In the 59-page response filed before the ICC Appeals Chamber, a copy of which was released in mid-April, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan rejected the Philippine government’s claim that the killings and other crimes related to the anti-drug campaign are of “marginal gravity.”

The prober said the former president “encouraged” the crackdown on illegal drugs that led to the death of over 5,000 and possibly about 30,000 civilians.

But during a separate briefing with the Philippine media before he left the US, Marcos refused to assess the anti-illegal drug campaign of Duterte, saying he was “not in a position” to do so.

At the forum, Marcos said the proliferation of illegal drugs in Philippine communities continues to be “the source of many, much criminality.”

“The syndicates have become wealthier, more influential… but instead of going after everyone, we have tried to identify the key areas that we have to attend to so we can see a demolition of activity of drug syndicates,” he said.

Marcos cited the government’s recent move ordering top officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to resign to evaluate their potential links to drug activities, which “enriched themselves at the cost of many lives, especially our young people.”

“If anything is found, that implicates any of them to be involved in any of these activities then we will start to develop the cases against them and dismantle this terrible system that has become a cancer in our society,” he said.

After taking enforcement “as far as we can,” Marcos said his administration would focus on dismantling the drug syndicates, rehabilitating those who have already fallen into the drug culture, and re-educating the youth to inform them of the potential damage of drugs to their lives.

“We are looking at the problem as a whole… give options to our young people so they are not tempted to indulge in these activities,” he said.