Pubdate: Wed, 03 Aug 2016
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2016 Star Advertiser
Author: Jason Gutierrez, New York Times


MANILA - Since Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines 
just over a month ago, promising to get tough on crime by having the 
police and the military kill drug suspects, 420 people have been 
killed in the campaign, according to tallies of police reports by the 
local news media.

Most were killed in confrontations with the police, while 154 were 
killed by unidentified vigilantes. This has prompted 114,833 people 
to turn themselves in, as either drug addicts or dealers, since 
Duterte took office, according to national police logs.

Addressing Congress last week in his first State of the Nation 
address, Duterte reiterated his take-no-prisoners approach, ordering 
the police to "triple" their efforts against crime.

"We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and 
the last pusher have surrendered or been put behind bars or below the 
ground, if they so wish," he said.

But human rights groups, Roman Catholic activists and the families of 
many of those killed during the crackdown say that the vast majority 
were poor Filipinos, many of whom had nothing to do with the drug 
trade. They were not accorded an accusation and a trial, but were 
simply shot down in the streets, the critics say.

"These are not the wealthy and powerful drug lords who actually have 
meaningful control over supply of drugs on the streets in the 
Philippines," said Phelim Kine, a deputy director of Human Rights 
Watch in Asia.

Critics of the president's campaign have rallied around the case of 
Michael Siaron, a 29-year-old rickshaw driver in Manila, who was shot 
one night by unidentified gunmen as he pedaled his vehicle, in search 
of a passenger. When his wife rushed to the scene, a photographer 
took a picture of her cradling his body in the street, and the 
photograph quickly gained wide attention.

Scribbled in block letters on a cardboard sign left near his body was 
the word "pusher." His family members insist that he was not involved 
in the drug trade, though they said he sometimes used meth.

Indirectly acknowledging criticism that his policies trample over the 
standard judicial process, Duterte said that human rights "cannot be 
used as a shield to destroy the country."

He has called for drug users and sellers to turn themselves in or 
risk being hunted down, a threat backed up by the bodies piling up 
near daily on the streets of Philippine cities.

The approach appears to be driving down crime: The police say that 
they have arrested more than 2,700 people on charges related to using 
or selling illegal drugs, and that crime nationwide has fallen 13 
percent since the election, to 46,600 reported crimes in June, from 
52,950 in May.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom