The evidence emerging from President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called war on drugs increasingly shows that he’s not “fighting hard to rid [his] country of narcotics”. Instead, he’s pursuing a murderous war against the poor, resulting in the brutal, violent deaths of thousands of Filipinos.
Human Rights Watch research has exposed a damning pattern of unlawful police conduct in these killings. The pattern paints a veneer of legality over the summary executions. Many of the 3,271 killings the police attribute to “vigilantes” were in fact extrajudicial executions by death squads, with strong evidence that police or their agents were behind these heinous crimes.
President Duterte has been an enthusiastic cheerleader for those killings. He has made repeated calls for the public to kill even drug addicts as part of his campaign. These calls could constitute criminal incitement to commit murder.
Duterte has also repeatedly called for the Philippine National Police to target suspected drug users and drug dealers with extrajudicial violence. This call could constitute instigating law enforcers to commit murder.
Countries with close bilateral ties to the Philippines, particularly the United States, have an obligation to demand justice and accountability for the victims of Duterte’s abusive drug war, rather than roll out the red carpet for its mastermind.
Deputy director for Human Rights Watch Asia
Philippne Daily Inquirer/ANN