Since the inauguration of President Rodrigo Duterte on June 30, 2016, and his call for a “war on drugs,” Philippine National Police officers and unidentified “vigilantes” have killed over 7,000 people. The anti-drug campaign dubbed “Operation Double Barrel” has targeted suspected drug dealers and users ostensibly for arrest but in practice has been a campaign of extrajudicial execution in impoverished areas of Manila and other urban areas. Duterte’s outspoken endorsement of the campaign implicates him and other senior officials in possible incitement to violence, instigation of murder, and in command responsibility for crimes against humanity.

This report examines 24 incidents, resulting in 32 deaths, involving Philippine National Police personnel between October 2016 and January 2017. Human Rights Watch found that the official police reports of these incidents invariably asserted self-defense to justify police killings, contrary to eyewitness accounts that portray the killings as cold-blooded murders of unarmed drug suspects in custody. To bolster their claims, the police routinely planted guns, spent ammunition, and drug packets next to the victims’ bodies. No one has been meaningfully investigated, let alone prosecuted, for these killings.

Keep up-to-date with drug policy developments by subscribing to the IDPC Monthly Alert.