Duterte’s vigilante war on the poor

Vigilante victim in Manila (REUTERS:Romeo Ranoco) Dec 31 2016

Rodrigo Duterte began his vigilante war on drug users & small time peddlers after he was sworn in on June 30th saying “I don’t care about human rights, believe me.”

As of December 6th, police & other sources recorded 5,946 killings of suspected drug users & peddlers. Of those, 2,041 were shot in police shoot-to-kill operations & another 3,841 by unidentified vigilante gunmen sanctioned by Duterte. That is about 1,200 victims per month.

Many, if not most of the victims were teenagers; one was a 7-year-old child hit by a stray bullet in a vigilante assault. When Duterte, who is almost certainly psychotic, was asked earlier this month about the death toll he said contemptuously:”Most of them have been finished off anyway, I am not kidding.”

Drug addiction is a public health & social problem, not a criminal matter. The only people in the Philippines being executed for drug use are the poor, not the well-heeled cocaine users in banks & government offices, & certainly not those government officials facilitating the traffic of drugs into the country. The drug problem in the Philippines hasn’t even begun to be addressed because drugs continue to pour into the country from China, Duterte’s new ally, & he refuses to take action to stop the flow.

This is the body of a young man executed in a vigilante assault in Manila with his head wrapped in masking tape. Many victims have their heads wrapped in masking tape & it isn’t certain whether it was done before or after they were murdered. Others have cardboard signs placed on their bodies saying such things as “I am a drug addict.”

Even with his head wrapped in tape, we recognize this young man as one of ours. The indignity of this kind of death belongs to Duterte, not to the victims. May they all Rest In Peace.

Our fullest solidarity with Filipino human rights activists & organizations standing against these monstrous crimes.

(Photo by Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)