Police Use of Deadly Force in the Philippines

Comparing Levels and Patterns Before and Since Duterte


  • Peter Kreuzer Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF)




Duterte, Philippines, Police Killings, Police Use of Force, Police Violence


This article provides a detailed analysis of pre-Duterte and Duterte police use of deadly force in the Philippines. It first develops a set of indicators that allow for assessing the magnitude of police use of deadly force in “armed encounters”, its relation to the threat environments in which the police operate, and the lethality of such violence. Then, based on a self-developed dataset for the pre-Duterte decade and the ABS-CBN dataset on Duterte period police killings, it establishes the past and current patterns of police use of deadly force. The analysis shows that in the past decade as under Duterte inter-provincial spatial and temporal variation of police use of deadly force has been very high. Differences in the threat environment play only a minor role in explaining this variation. Differences in sub-national units’ reactions to the Duterte campaign mirror those in police use of deadly force during the earlier decade, signaling strong path-dependency. Lethality-levels have been outstanding in both periods despite dramatically differing levels of lethal violence. Clearly, Philippine police tended to shoot-to-kill already before Duterte granted them a carte blanche.

Author Biography

Peter Kreuzer, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF)

Peter Kreuzer is senior researcher and member of the Executive Board of Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF). He is working on political violence in the Philippines.


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How to Cite

Kreuzer, P. (2019). Police Use of Deadly Force in the Philippines: Comparing Levels and Patterns Before and Since Duterte. Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 12(2), 149–166. https://doi.org/10.14764/10.ASEAS-0019



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