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Politics

Duterte ignores costs of drug war at his peril

Honeymoon days fade, but muted Western criticism lets him stay the course

| Philippines
Protesters march toward the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila during the Philippines' National Day of Protest on Sept. 21.   © Reuters

Since he took office on June 30, 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has waged a brutal campaign against illegal drugs without facing any significant resistance. The result was what one watchdog group dubbed a "human rights calamity" as police and vigilantes targeted thousands of suspected users and pushers across the country.

In fact, the Philippines topped the 2017 Global Impunity Index, which measures the pervasiveness of extrajudicial killings and miscarriages of justice in countries around the world. In his second year in office, the tough-talking president has vowed to remain "unrelenting and unremitting" in his war on drugs.

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