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Filipino leader moves to rein in vigilante squads

February 03, 2017

Under pressure from the Catholic Church as well as international human-rights activists, President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a step to curb the extra-judicial killings of suspected drug dealers.

Duterte has broken up special units of the national police force that had been dedicated to combatting drug traffic, and said that he would investigate charges of corruption within the police force. At the same time, he said that the country’s anti-drug agency would continue the crackdown, and promised help from the military.

Under Duterte, who came to power promising an aggressive campaign to stop the drug trade, an estimated 8,000 people have been killed by vigilante forces. Units of the national police force are generally acknowledged to be involved in the killings. The problem came to a head when a South Korean businessman, who apparently had no involvement in drug trafficking, was seized, brought to the headquarters of the national police force, and killed.

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