Lifeless bodies lying on the streets of the Philippines are a visceral sign of new President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
So far more than 1,900 people have died. Of those more than 700 have been killed in police operations since Duterte took office in late June, according to police statistics. Many of the unsolved deaths are attributed to vigilantes.
Duterte’s tough talk on the country’s drug and crime problems won him the election and, 60 days on from his inauguration, he remains extremely popular.
“Double your efforts. Triple them, if need be. We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars – or below the ground, if they so wish,” he said in his July 25 State of the Nation speech.
A Senate inquiry is underway into the police and the extrajudicial killings. Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa told the committee there was no shoot to kill order, but people are happy with what the police are doing, despite mistakes by officers. “We are only human…We admit we make mistakes, we are not perfect,” he said.
Dela Rosa said that about 300 of his officers were suspected of involvement in the drug trade and would be relieved of their duties and tried in court.
But for all the plaudits, including a 91% approval rating President Duterte received for cracking down on drug dealers and addicts, there are families heartbroken, jails swamped, rehab centers overwhelmed.
CNN spent a week in Manila and met six people living and working close to the bloodstained sidewalks.