A Murderous Plague in the Philippines

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A Murderous Plague in the Philippines

Earvin Charles Cabalquinto and Maria Tanyag

According to the World Health Organization, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Philippines on 20 January 2020. More than a year later, there are now more than 800,000 confirmed cases, about 13,800 deaths and a surge of 5000 new cases in one day. Approximately 41 per cent of the total number of confirmed cases are from the National Capital Region (NCR), where Manila is located.

The death toll from Rodrigo Duterte’s Drug War since July 2016 ranges from a conservative estimate of 8,663 people according to the UN Human Rights Council, to possibly thrice as... high based on statements from the Philippine Commission on Human Rights. The official record from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), the agency implementing Duterte’s Drug War, is at 6,011 deaths from July 2016 to December 2020.

Alarmingly, the national pandemic response is even being harnessed in the service of the Drug War with extrajudicial killings registering a 50 per cent increase between April and July 2020. Both COVID-19 related deaths and extrajudicial killings linked with the War on Drugs have been popularly represented by the Duterte government as disconnected from, or outside of, all the range and repertoires of repression at the state’s disposal.

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