A doctor in front of the Philippine flag

22 Oct The Drug War of the Philippines

There was recently a bit of drama between U.S. President Barack Obama and the Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that ended with a meeting between the two world leaders being struck from Obama’s scheduled visits to Asia. What caused this international spat? Obama criticized the Philippines for its martial drug war that has led to the death of thousands, and Duterte called Obama a “son of a whore.” However, Duterte deserves to be criticized for his conduct, and the nation of the Philippines’ drug war is a major human rights violation of our time. Let’s take a look at this disgrace of law and justice…

Extrajudicial killings

When Duterte was sworn into office, he promised to kill tens of thousands of drug dealers around the country. We have seen the effects of this policy play out since he was sworn in on June 30th, 2016. So far, there have been over 2000 people who have been killed by police and citizens in this war on drugs. Most of these killings have been extrajudicial, meaning that there was no case opened into the charges against them. Many of the killings have happened without any evidence of drug abuse at all. This is a blatant contrast to the accepted norm of due process in the global community, and could lead to more fascistic policies in the Philippines.

Vigilante death squads

Although plenty of the killings have been incited by the police, Duterte has also encouraged citizens to kill drug dealers and users in their communities. Indeed, he has even offered bounties to citizens who do so. This has led to the creation of many vigilante death squads in the country. This has made it nearly impossible to track whether or not their was any semblance of guilt attached with any of the victims of the killings. So far, most of these killings have been addicts and street children who are used by drug cartels to push product.

Rodrigo Duterte’s history

These policies are not surprising, and they certainly don’t come from nowhere. Duterte campaigned heavily on promoting policies to kill drug dealers, although he promised that the killings would only be in justified cases. Before he campaigned to be president, though, was the Mayor of Davao City, where he also utilized civilian death squads to kill people who used and sold drugs.

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