MANILA — President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. committed to continue his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte's crackdown on illegal drugs "with respect for human rights and focus on rehabilitation," a diplomat said Friday.
Ambassador Annika Thunborg of Sweden said Marcos made the statement during their meeting, which tackled "the rule of law, human rights, and the war on drugs," among other topics.
"We also touched upon political affairs and importance and the strong commitment that has been expressed by the President-elect to conduct the war on drugs within the framework of the law and with respect for human rights and focus on rehabilitation and socio-economic development," Thunborg said in a press conference.
"[It is] something that is very much appreciated on my government's side," she added.
The meeting also discussed the "importance of collaborating among nations based on international law" and "transnational collaboration to handle challenges... such as the global drug trade, transnational crime and the pandemic", Thunborg said.
Unleashed when Duterte took office in 2016, his drug war has drawn criticism from local rights groups and international leaders after thousands of suspected drug peddlers and users were killed for allegedly resisting arrest.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in September last year approved a full inquiry into alleged crimes against humanity in Duterte's drug war. The ICC suspended the probe some 2 months later following a request by the Philippines, which cited its own investigations.
The outgoing President recently urged his successor to exert "stronger pressure" against illegal drugs, saying the campaign should be treated like "war."
Earlier this year, Marcos said that his administration would focus on going after drug lords, instead of the small players.
Marcos said he would also push to improve rehabilitation centers for drug users and treat them as patients rather than as criminals.
In the run-up to the May 9 elections, Duterte claimed that a wealthy presidential candidate uses cocaine and is a "very weak leader."
While he neither provided proof nor mentioned names, several candidates, including Marcos, underwent drug tests to rule themselves out of Duterte's blind item.