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A long-awaited turning point in Duterte's bloody drug war

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"Never has homicide or murder been a function of law enforcement," declared Filipino Judge Rodolfo Azucena Jr in a landmark ruling, which may change the fate of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's bloody drug war.

On November 29, the Regional Trial Court in Caloocan City found three police officers guilty of murdering Kian Delos Santos, a 17-year-old teenager, in August last year.

The cold-blooded murder, caught on CCTV footage, provoked nationwide outrage, which immediately forced the Filipino president to issue, for the first time, a public apology. He even went so far as meeting and consoling the parents of the victim in a highly emotional encounter. Amid public outcry, he also temporarily suspended anti-drug raids by the police.

Although majority of Filipinos support a robust crackdown on crime and drugs, more than 9 out of 10 Filipinos want drug suspects kept alive, while 7 out of 10 Filipinos fear becoming a victim of extrajudicial killings themselves. Many Filipinos support Duterte's drug war only in principle, but disagree with his brutal methods.

The life imprisonment conviction of the three police officers could pave the way for similar rulings against other abusive law enforces and officials. Human rights groups hope that Kian's landmark case will grind Duterte's scorched-earth drug war to a halt and, over time, help bring justices for thousands of other victims.

Since coming to power in 2016, Duterte has promised to get rid of drug dealers by unleashing a........

© Al Jazeera