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Duterte’s War on Drugs Incurs ‘Collateral Damage’: QuickTake Q&A

Jail guards armed with assault weapons guard outside a city jail where 10 prisoners with various drug charges were killed in an alleged grenade blast on August 12, 2016 in Manila, Philippines.
Photograher: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images
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Since taking office in mid-2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has staged a deadly war on drugs that’s claimed thousands of lives, many at the hands of vigilante groups. The European Union and the United Nations have condemned the brutal crackdown, but his support at home remains strong, rebounding after the death of a student in August prompted public outrage. Human rights groups say the anti-drug offensives could amount to crimes against humanity and accuse him of stifling media criticism.

More than 12,000, according to Human Rights Watch and local media. The government says that’s an exaggeration, with official accounts showing 3,987 fatalities at the hands of police from July 1, 2016, to Jan. 17, 2018. More than 1,800 killings are still under investigation by police. Either way, Duterte in a little over a year has brought about more loss of life than President Ferdinand Marcos did during his eight years of martial rule through 1981. Thaksin Shinawatra’s war on drugs in Thailand in the early 2000s resulted in more than 2,500 deaths.