While there’s no denying that the War on Drugs in the U.S. is an unjust policy that has ruined countless lives, the barbarism in the Philippines drug war is on another level.
President Rodrigo Duterte made international headlines leading up to his election as the “Trump of Asia.” Outrageous statements helped propel his candidacy—he even said he would order his own children to be killed if they used illegal drugs.
And now, he’s making good on his campaign promise by ordering the killings of drug users and dealers. Encouraging police and even citizen vigilantes to kill those suspected of having ties to the drug trade, about 1,800 have lost their lives since Duterte took office on June 30.
“Please feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun, you have my support,” he said in a televised speech, suggesting people take matters into their own hands against drug users.
The extrajudicial killings have prompted the UN to express concern over human rights abuses. “I join the United Nations Secretary-General in condemning the apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killing, which is illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms,” said Yury Fedotov, the executive director of the UNODC, in a statement.
Despite receiving criticism from the international community and at home, Duterte remains intransigent. “I am not afraid of human rights [concerns],” he said in a speech, in which he compared himself to Idi Amin.
The leader has vowed to continue his appalling tactics in the face of mounting criticism. Duterte threatened to declare martial law if the Supreme Court interfered in his crusade against drugs.
Philippine Senator Leila de Lima has opened an inquiry into the extrajudicial killings. “What is particularly worrisome is that the campaign against drugs seems to be an excuse for some law enforcers and other elements like vigilantes to commit murder with impunity,” she said, according to Reuters.
Duterte’s War on Drugs has created alarming conditions in the country’s jails. Guards at Quezon City, outside Manila, say overcrowding has gotten worse, reports CNN. The jail can accommodate 278 inmates, yet more than 4,000 inmates (60% for drug offenses) are currently stuffed into its outrageously overcrowded cells.
Jennilyn Olayres, who lost her husband to Duterte’s drug war, appealed to the president to “kill drugs, not people.” She said her husband, who voted for Duterte, was gunned down by a group of men on motorcycles.
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