Rodrigo Duterte's anti-drug stance stirs up mixed emotions in Manila

Rodrigo Duterte.
(Image credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 6,000 people have been killed since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte started his war on drugs six months ago, and reactions from inside the country are mixed.

It's believed that most of the murders were done by vigilantes, and Duterte, who said in November his anti-narcotics push won't stop "until the last pusher drops dead," refuses to condemn them. Reuters interviewed several people on the streets of Manila to ask for their thoughts on Duterte's hardline measures, including one woman, Rosalina Perez, who said her brother was killed by police during a drug investigation. "At first, we liked what [Duterte] was doing," she said. "But as it went on I started to question what he was doing. Everyone who wants to change are just killed. They are not even given a chance to explain themselves to the authorities."

Felicidad Magdayao, the owner of a fast-food restaurant, said his business has "suffered" under Duterte's leadership. "People are afraid to go out," he said. "At dawn, we only have a few customers. At least, there are fewer drug addicts and drug pushers."

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Police officer Ronaldo David told Reuters his caseload has dwindled, and he's now focused "on educating people and in prevention." A teacher said the streets are safer now and children are allowed to walk to school alone again, and grave digger Sandro Gabriel Jr. shared that the cemetery where he works has had an influx in burials of people shot and killed in the drug war. "I am not saying Duterte should keep killing people," he said. "But for us, we will keep working as long as there is work."

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Catherine Garcia

Catherine Garcia is night editor for Her writing and reporting has appeared in Entertainment Weekly and, The New York Times, The Book of Jezebel, and other publications. A Southern California native, Catherine is a graduate of the University of Redlands and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.