MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday marked the start of his last year as Chief Executive, with Malacañang saying that he delivered on his campaign promises, while activists looked forward to a "day of reckoning" for killings under his administration.
Duterte, who won on a campaign against crime and unleashed a war on drugs upon taking office, remains popular, as consistently seen in surveys, said his spokesman Harry Roque.
He said the President "made inroads" against corruption and red tape, and signed into law the free tuition and universal healthcare bills. As for the country's COVID-19 response, the government is offering free coronavirus tests and vaccines, Roque said.
"Needless to say, marami po tayong nakamit doon sa mga pinangako ni Presidente, lalong-lalo na sa laban sa droga," he said in a press conference.
(We achieved many of the President's promises, especially in the fight against drugs.)
More than 6,000 people have been killed in over 200,000 anti-drug operations conducted since July 2016, according to official data. Human rights groups estimate the number could be several times higher.
Many suspects have been put on "drug watch lists" by local officials and then visited by police at their homes -- a situation which often ends in a deadly shooting that officers say was self-defense.
Protesters marched in Manila on Wednesday to mark Duterte's last year in office and call on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to proceed with a full inquiry into the alleged crimes against humanity under the drug war.
"The magnitude of the mass murders point to a systematic and organized campaign to do away with due process and rule of law," said BAYAN secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr.
"We say, no more. We do not wish to see an extension of Duterte’s reign of terror beyond 2022. We do not wish to see another six years of brazen disregard for due process and the rule of law. We say no more, to tyranny and abuse of power," he said in a statement.
Duterte is considering calls to run as vice president next year, his aides have said. The President however has denied that his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio would seek to be his successor.
"Duterte will not be president forever and neither can he cling to power forever. There will be a day of reckoning when justice for the victims will finally be achieved," said Reyes.
— With a report from Reuters
Video courtesy of PTV