Protests as up to 1000 drug traders executed in Philippines

PROTESTS are growing in the Philippines over President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal campaign against the drug trade.

Estimates of the numbers killed by police and vigilantes since Mr Duterte emerged as president-elect after the May 9 election vary between 650 and 1000.

The bloodied bodies of alleged drug dealers and users have been left on streets and in gutters, often with cardboard placards proclaiming their involvement in the drug trade.

Rights groups have condemned the killings and there have been protests recently at several schools and towns.

"We have an extremely alarming situation in the Philippines right now," Phelim Kine, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, told The WorldPost.

"There has been an extremely worrying surge in police killings of suspected drug dealers and users, and along with that we've seen a very sinister up-tick in killings of alleged criminal suspects by shadowy vigilante killers."

A Philippine Senate committee is set to investigate the killings later this month.

President Duterte has repeatedly encouraged the killings and remains unmoved.

Up to 600,000 people, most of them drug users, have turned themselves in to authorities, according to officials.

On Monday, Philippine senator Leila de Lima said the drug-related deaths in the country could constitute crimes against humanity.