Philippines: End “war on drugs” following national Police chief’s resignation

Responding to today’s resignation of Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde, Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southeast Asia, said:

“General Albayalde’s resignation is the last blow to the credibility of the so-called ‘war on drugs’. The Philippines authorities must ensure that justice is done and that this lawless and murderous campaign ends now.

“President Duterte has said that due process of law will be afforded to Albayalde – the very rights that his government has denied to thousands of people suspected of using or selling drugs, who have been unlawfully killed by the police acting as judge, jury and executioner.

“This scandal shows that impunity is entrenched in the institutions supposed to uphold human rights and the rule of law. The authorities must urgently expand their probe into General Albayalde to cover the wide-ranging police abuses that continue up to this day.”


On 14 October 2019, Philippine National Police chief General Oscar Albayalde resigned from his post amid an intensifying drugs-related scandal.

On 1 October, during a Senate hearing, a former Director of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) linked Police Director Oscar Albayalde to the cover-up of a drug “recycling” job in 2013, whereby illicit drugs seized in a police operation were later sold.

A few days later, a former regional police chief (who is currently the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) also testified that Albayalde had tried to protect the officers incriminated. The officers were not dismissed, only demoted, and remain on active duty.

Albayalde has denied the accusations against him and has asked the public to “move on” from the issue. The government has insisted that the accusations do not damage the credibility of its violent anti-drugs campaign.

Thousands of people have been killed in a wave of state-sanctioned violence since the start of President Duterte’s presidency in 2016. In July 2019, Amnesty International published a report, “They just kill”: Ongoing extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations in the Philippines ‘war on drugs’ which documented how police commanders who previously supervised abusive operations in Manila were later transferred to Central Luzon and have continued to oversee a brutal killings campaign in the province. Amnesty International considers that the killings reach the threshold of crimes against humanity.