The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday said he plans to declare martial law [Reuters report] if the country’s drug problem becomes “very virulent.” Duterte, who recently called reports that he intended to institute martial law “nonsense,” has made a concerted effort to combat drugs in the country, a campaign which has resulted in the killing of 6,000 people and the arrest of over 1 million drug traffickers and users. Specifically, Duterte said “[i]f I wanted to, and it will deteriorate into something very virulent, I will declare martial law,” and, in reference to the Supreme Court and Congress, he said “[n]o one can stop me.” The current crackdown on criminal activities in the Philippines has been Duterte’s central focus since he entered office last year.
During his campaign, Duterte said that 100,000 people would die [Guardian report] in his crackdown on crime. Since Duterte has taken office, more than 400 suspected drug dealers have been killed and 600,000 have surrendered to the police. In October the International Criminal Court [official website] expressed concern [JURIST report] over the rising occurrence of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines in connection with the ongoing war on drugs. In September Duterte declared a “state of lawlessness” [JURIST report] in the Philippines, which would allow police and military personnel to frisk individuals and search cars. In August Duterte named [JURIST report] 150 serving and former state officials connected to the nation’s illegal drug trade and ordered them to either surrender to the authorities or risk being hunted down. Duterte has stated that he disregards criticisms from the UN and human rights groups. Also in August Duterte threatened to withdraw [JURIST report] the country from the UN following criticisms against his controversial crackdown on illegal drugs.