Pubdate: Fri, 05 Aug 2016
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2016 The Washington Post Company


The New President of the Philippines Unleashes a Surge of 
Extrajudicial Killings of Drug Dealers and Users.

RODRIGO DUTERTE, the new president of the Philippines, is overseeing 
exactly what he pledged in his campaign: a terrifying surge of 
extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers, users and 
criminals. From the day after he was elected, May 10, to Aug. 4, by a 
local account, there had been 571 killings, most of them simple 
executions by police and vigilante groups.

Mr. Duterte promised to "shoot to kill" and eliminate drug dealing in 
the country in six months. In fact, he is killing the rule of law, 
and that could undermine Philippine democracy.

Mr. Duterte declared in his inaugural speech that his "adherence to 
due process and the rule of law is uncompromising." But later that 
day, after taking the oath, Mr. Duterte visited a Manila slum and 
told a crowd, referring to drug dealers, "These sons of whores are 
destroying our children.

I warn you, don't go into that, even if you're a policeman, because I 
will really kill you. If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill 
them yourself, as getting their parents to do it would be too painful."

The Philippines has a serious drug problem, chiefly with crystal 
meth, a.k.a. shabu.

The drug trade took root in a nation plagued by rampant corruption 
and a discredited political establishment. Mr. Duterte's firebrand 
response to drugs has been popular.

But the street executions are taking lives without trials or proof of 
criminality. Drug addicts and abusers who need medical attention and 
counseling are getting a bullet instead.

Police have claimed suspects resisted arrest or shot at them but have 
provided no evidence.

More than 300 organizations involved in issues related to drug 
production, trafficking and use have appealed to international 
drug-control agencies to help stop the killings and to tell Mr. 
Duterte that they "do not constitute acceptable drug control 
measures." That's putting it mildly.

No one should be surprised by Mr. Duterte's brutal tactics.

He has been championing extrajudicial violence for nearly two decades.

 From 1998 until this year he served as mayor of Davao City on the 
main southern island of Mindanao, where death squads took the lives 
of more than 1,000 people.

An investigation in 2009 by Human Rights Watch documented the grisly 
methods of the killers; they meted out summary executions with impunity.

On May 24, 2015, in a television broadcast, Mr. Duterte identified 
with the shadowy killers. "Am I the death squad?

True. That is true," he said. He pledged that if elected president, 
he would execute 100,000 criminals and dump their bodies in Manila Bay.

The past few weeks provide grim foreshadowing that he may be serious 
about that. Mr. Duterte won the election as a profane, 
take-no-prisoners leader who did not bristle at the word "dictator." 
While the persona may have proved effective in the campaign, a real 
dictator, especially one with blood on his hands, is hardly what the 
Philippines needs.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom