The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the Philippines found in a report released Tuesday that the killings in the “war on drugs” constituted an intent to kill.
President Rodrigo Duterte instituted an anti-drug campaign upon election in 2016, known as Project Double Barrel. The investigation found there was an increase in drug-related killings being reported as a result of the anti-drug campaign.
Reviewing 579 incidents of “drug-related extrajudicial killings” between 2016 and 2020, the commission found that there were 705 victims. Looking at violence under police operations, the investigation found that, especially in the NCR, Region III, and Region IV-A, killings included gunshot wounds to the head, chest, and abdomen. This would suggest a defense to kill as opposed to self-defense.
In September, the Supreme Court of Philippines also ruled that the killing of an aggressor through a gunshot wound was an intent to kill and not self-defense. Further evidence of the anti-drug campaign suggests that some victims could not have initiated a shootout. Some violence occurred whilst already in police custody and some victims were not the intended targets. All of the eyewitness statements add support that there was an intent to kill.
The UN previously warned President Duterte that the violence through Project Double Barrell could constitute “systematic murders” and be deemed a human rights violation. Pressure to investigate the violence on drug suspects has increased, with the International Criminal Court also announced that it will investigate the law enforcement actions during the anti-drug campaign.