Pubdate: Sat, 13 Aug 2016
Source: Orange County Register, The (CA)
Copyright: 2016 The Orange County Register
Author: Richard C. Paddock, The New York Times


MANILA - Samsudin Dimaukom, the mayor of a town in the southern 
Philippines, was watching television Sunday after midnight when he 
was startled to hear the country's new president call out his name.

It was no honor. President Rodrigo Duterte was reading a list of more 
than 150 officials he said were involved in the illegal drug trade. 
He ordered Dimaukom and the others to turn themselves in within 24 
hours or be hunted down.

Since he took office six weeks ago, Duterte, 71, has roiled the 
nation with a violent war on drugs that has left hundreds dead, most 
of them poor and powerless.

This week, in what seemed to be a new phase, he took on judges and 
police generals, military officials, more than 50 mayors and local 
officials, and three men said to be current or former members of 
Congress. He stripped them of their weapons permits and, in some 
cases, their government security details, potentially leaving them 
vulnerable to vigilantes.

The escalation provoked a clash with the Supreme Court, nearly 
causing a constitutional crisis before Duterte backed down, and it 
has raised questions about the list, a McCarthyesque device of 
uncertain origin and unencumbered by evidence.

But if anything, the campaign has made Duterte only more popular. His 
approval ratings soared to 91 percent in July, according to a Pulse 
Asia poll, far higher than the 39 percent of the vote he received on 
Election Day in May. Even some people who have been killed by 
vigilantes were wearing red-and-blue "Duterte" wristbands when they 
were gunned down.

Duterte, a combative former mayor and prosecutor, has repeatedly 
called for the killing of drug dealers, and an estimated 800 people 
have died at the hands of police or vigilantes since his election, 
officials say. Many were gunned down in the street and left with a 
cardboard sign identifying them as drug pushers. Such killings have 
become known as "cardboard justice."

More than 600,000 drug users and dealers, fearing for their lives, 
have turned themselves in, the authorities say. Most have been sent 
home after giving the police a statement and are likely to face 
investigation later.
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