Third World Studies Center (TWSC)

University of the Philippines

The Third World Studies Center records casualties of the ‘War on Drugs’ campaign instigated by former President Rodrigo Duterte. This initiative is part of TWSC’s ‘Violence, Human Rights and Democracy in the Philippines’ project, conducted in collaboration with Ghent University.

TWSC began this work in 2018 to devise a way to systematically record drug-related killings, as a reaction to the numerous estimates released by various organizations, many of which lack transparency and rigour in their methodology. Initially this project relied solely on information gathered from news reports of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, but since 2020 it has incorporated multiple news sources.

The project’s overarching goal is to produce research supporting evidence-based intervention in public debates on violence and tendencies towards authoritarianism in the Philippines. The work also recognises casualty recording’s potential contribution in holding perpetrators of violence to account.

Although numerous organizations have published their own, often conflicting, estimates of the number of casualties in the Philippines drugs war, many have not been transparent with their methodology. This means tallies could not be verified, thereby weakening what could be a credible basis of calling for accountability. TWSC’s project focused on establishing a clear set of parameters and methodology for recording deaths resulting from drug-related armed violence, which can be used by any researcher. This would facilitate the eventual creation of a comprehensive database of drug-related killings that would provide individual details of each case, identification of key trends, and an evidence base for seeking accountability.

View all CROs