Duterte drug war won in 2019 elections, DFA chief says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) — President Rodrigo Duterte and his controversial war on drugs "just won" in the 2019 midterm elections, the country's top diplomat said Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Tedoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin, Jr. said the victory of Duterte allies in the Senate race only means that Filipinos have voted in favor of the bloody anti-drug campaign, which has been widely criticized by local and international human rights groups.

"The Senatorial elections were not a referendum in favor of Charter Change either, the death penalty, and jailing minors. The elections were a referendum on Duterte and his war on drugs. He & the war just won. So shut the f***k up on that subject everybody. The war goes on," Locsin said in a tweet.

"Yes, really. The war to continue the war on drugs. The war on drugs itself is a work in progress and it is about to get really really really painful on the enemy," Locsin added.

Eight Duterte-backed candidates have made it to the top 12 slots for senators based on the partial and official tally of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) as of 9 p.m. on Tuesday. Only one opposition bet made the cut – reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino, but he is in the 14th spot in the partial and unofficial tally as of Wednesday morning, with 96.26 percent of the election returns counted.

Among those poised for a Senate seat is former Philippine National Police Chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, the Davao City cop who launched the drug war on Duterte's order. Under his watch, Duterte suspended the flagship anti-drug campaign "Oplan Tokhang" amid alleged police abuses, and tasked the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take lead role in the fight against drugs.

Government data show over 5,000 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations. Critics say the President's public pronouncements have resulted in thousands more extrajudicial killings, a claim Malacañang has repeatedly denied.