Fighting Crime . . . Pulling Out All The Stops
"We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or been put behind bars or below the ground, if they so wish."
"There you are [photo of the distraught wife of a 29-yer-old rickshaw driver in Manila, shot to death as a drug dealer] sprawled on the ground, and you are portrayed in a broadsheet like Mother Mary cradling the dead cadaver of Jesus Christ. That's just drama."
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
|Jennilyn Olayres hugs her partner, Michael Siaron, on the street where he was shot. Next to him is a placard which reads "I'm a pusher."|
"These are not the wealthy and powerful drug lords who actually have meaningful control over [the] supply of drugs on the streets in the Philippines."
Phelim Kine, deputy director, Human Rights Watch, Asia
When President Duterte was long-time mayor of Davao City he enacted Draconian laws to combat rampant crime and corruption in the city. A record he is proud of. There was a strict curfew, a smoking ban, a zero-tolerance of drug users and sellers. It took time, but by the time that Mr. Duterte left his job as mayor after a twenty-year stint, the city had become a safety zone in a region that violence has long plagued.
Last year, Rodrigo Duterte campaigned on a promise of stifling crime and making the Philippines a country safe for its residents, that the growing reality of Islamist violence, as well as the drug-inspired crime wave would be dramatically reduced under his firm command. He offered to negotiate with Islamists as long as they pledged peace, but when they spurned his offer, he withdrew it and no holds will now be barred in that direction.
The International Drug Policy Consortium representing a network of non-governmental organizations forwarded a dispatch to the United Nations urging its drug control agencies "to demand an end to the atrocities currently taking place in the Philippines", and to further condemn extrajudicial killings that "do not constitute acceptable drug-control measures".
During Mr. Duterte's twenty years as mayor of Davao City, through his auspices in the effort to defeat drug-dealing and crime, an estimated one thousand people lost their lives. This is a number and an episode in his past governance that he is proud of, and is not averse to stating and re-stating that his government-sanctioned death squads led to those deaths which in the end led to a pacified city. He even boasts of having been personally responsible for some of those deaths, at his own hands.
Now, since formally assuming the presidency a month ago, his tough-on-crime agenda has been rolled out for the entire country. He has given free reign to the police and the military with instructions to kill drug suspects, and that has resulted in 420 people in that space of time losing their lives, according to tallies by local news media relying on police reports
When he addressed Congress a week ago, President Dutarte repeated his instructions to police, ordering them to "triple" efforts to combat crime. The families of many of those who have been killed claim their dead were poor Filipinos with no hand in the drug trade, simply shot down in the streets without a trial. Their president has responded with the statement that human rights "cannot be used as a shield to destroy the country".
|Police patrol a shanty community at night during curfew on June 8, 2016 in Manila. Philippine police have been conducting frequent night raids and revived a curfew for minors that has not been enforced for years.|