Human Rights 23 January 2017 23 8707
The Philippines’s controversial President Rodrigo Duterte came to power on his promise to crack down on crime. Dubbed “The Punisher”, he addressed his subjects, encouraging them to kill drug addicts. However, his inauguration was followed by a wave of extrajudicial killings of alleged drug dealers and now he denies any involvement with the vigilante violence.
A dramatic increase in brutal street executions coincided with the start of “Project Duterte”, the police programme aimed at “Drug Use and Trafficking Elimination thru Rehabilitation, Training and Enforcement”, many Filipinos claim they have lost all trust in the country’s law enforcement.
Most of the street murders carry distinct hallmarks; the victims’ heads are wrapped in adhesive tape, they are left with stab wounds and a sign accusing them of being drug “pushers” is left at the scene. Some believe the police are behind the murders, others that the drug cartels kill their own to cover their tracks. RT Doc spoke to a “death squad” member who claims to have been hired by the authorities to assassinate suspects. The more prominent an alleged drug dealer, the more his killers are paid. The President concedes that there may be innocent victims but he simply describes them as ‘collateral damage’.
Street murder without trial, suspects dying in police custody, overcrowded prisons, vigilante terror squads hunting targets for the price put on their heads and innocent lives lost: all this adds up to the flip side of the Philippines’ war on drugs. President Duterte talks exclusively to RT Doc.