The women agree among themselves. As field staff for Social Weather Stations (sws), a pollster in Metropolitan Manila, they find that the vast majority of Filipinos approve of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs. People repeatedly tell them that they just want the drugs trade controlled, and the results of their inquiries show that almost two in three Filipinos believe that the number of drug users in their area has dropped since Mr Duterte came to power in 2016. Their own experience tells them something similar. They say they can now go about their polling in parts of drug-ravaged cities that were once too dangerous.
“Find them all and arrest them. If they resist, kill them all.” Mr Duterte’s hard line on drug dealers and other miscreants was at the core of his election campaign. The number of suspected criminals dispatched since his victory is hard to assess, but large. The country’s human-rights commission believes the total number of extra-judicial killings to be some 27,000. One can only guess how many private scores have been settled under cover of the drug war. The death toll bears comparison to the 30,000 who “disappeared” under the Argentinian junta of the late 1970s, though Argentina’s population was a lot smaller—there are 106m Filipinos