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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos’ claim that ‘many policemen are in jail’ for drug-related offenses needs context

Many policemen have already been removed from service because they’ve been found to be liable, cases have been filed. Many are already in jail,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on how his administration would bring justice to victims of Duterte’s drug war.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. 2024-03-04 Needs Context

While 177 police officers were reported to have been charged under the Marcos administration for drug-related violations as part of its anti-drug campaign, there have been only two known court convictions related to Duterte’s drug war, which the International Criminal Court seeks to investigate.

In a March 4 interview on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) News, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said “many policemen” have been held accountable for drug-related violations and that his administration is “not interested” in small-time addicts. This needs context.

STATEMENT

Responding to ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson’s question on how his administration plans to bring justice to the victims of the killings under former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, Marcos said:

“We have made a great deal of progress in that regard where many policemen have already been removed from service because they’ve been found to be liable. Cases have been filed. Many are already in jail.”

Source: ABC News In-depth, Single ‘mistake’ could trigger South China Sea conflict, warns Philippines President | 7.30, March 4, 2024, watch from 10:06 to 10:19

He later reiterated the shift in his administration’s anti-drug campaign, focusing on education and rehabilitation of drug addicts:

“What we try to do is to now go back to the families of those [killed in the drug war] and see what we can do to make things right for them, as long as it can be shown, of course, that they were not actually involved in the drug trade. As I said very early on, we are not interested in a small-time addict, for example. An addict, you take them to the hospital, you take them to rehab… We don’t [shoot them].”

Source: watch from 10:24 to 10:57

FACT

While 177 police officers were reported to have been charged for violations under the Marcos administration’s anti-drug campaign, there have been only two known court convictions related to Duterte’s drug war, which the International Criminal Court is investigating.

VERA Files Fact Check: While 177 police officers were reported to have been charged under the Marcos administration for drug-related violations, there have been only two known court convictions related to Duterte’s drug war.

The first of these convictions was handed down on Nov. 29, 2018, when a regional trial court in Caloocan City found three police officers guilty of the murder of Kian delos Santos. Five years later, on March 13, 2023, dismissed policeman Jeffrey Perez was convicted by a Navotas City court for the murders of Carl Angelo Arnaiz and Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman in 2017.

The Philippine National Police is yet to answer VERA Files’ request for data on the number of policemen jailed and/or removed from service under Duterte’s drug war.

While Marcos has vowed to shift the focus of the government’s campaign into addressing drug dependence through community-based rehabilitation, the Dahas Project of the Third World Studies Center at the University of the Philippines has recorded 331 drug-related killings in 2023.

Of the fatalities, 17 were users found to have a small amount of illegal drugs determined to be for personal use. More than half were identified as pushers who, according to reports, “have shot first at the police” and individuals with prior records either convicted of drug charges or surrendered for local rehabilitation, among others.

(Read The 2023 Dahas Report: The casualties of Marcos’s “bloodless” drug war)

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Sources

Presidential Communications Office, PBBM: 177 police officers charged with drug-related offenses in NCR; DOJ pursuing 151,818 court cases, Jan. 9, 2024

Presidential Communications Office, PBBM pushes for ‘a new face’ to campaign vs. illegal drugs, July 24, 2023

Conviction of police officers for the murder of Kian delos Santos

Conviction of dismissed police officer for the murder of two Cainta teens

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)