Like the American invasion and conquest of the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, the Duterte watch has been as bloody and as blundering.
The wanton killings by the police and their surrogate assassins that are the main, in fact the only, component of the brutal and misdirected “war” on drugs that’s targeting the poor while the drug lords are treated with kid gloves and evade prosecution began almost as soon as Rodrigo Duterte assumed the Presidency last year.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) says that “only” 1, 398 individuals have been killed in the course of the Rodrigo Duterte regime’s “war” on the illegal drug trade out of a total of 6,011 killings in the country from July 1, 2016 when Mr. Duterte began his watch as President, until March 24, 2017, or a little more than eight months into his six-year term.
Eigth out of ten Filipinos, a December 17 Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey has found, fear that they or someone they know could be a victim of extrajudicial killings or EJKs.
As Senator Grace Poe has observed, the fear is understandable in view of the epidemic of killings in the course of the Duterte anti-illegal drug campaign. The police killing spree has claimed not only the lives of drug pushers and users; it has also victimized both those individuals who have nothing to do with the drug trade as well as drug addicts driven to the habit by poverty and desperation.
THEN CANDIDATE Rodrigo Duterte described himself as a “socialist” and a “leftist” during the May 2016 campaign. He hasn’t made the same claim since, and, despite his appointment of two presumed leftists to the Cabinet, there isn’t a shadow of socialist thought or principle in either his statements or his emerging policies.
What the entire country has been getting since Duterte assumed the presidency, in addition to the usual profanities, is a mulish obsession with drugs, drugs, drugs. It’s as if the trade in illegal drugs and drug abuse were the country’s only problem, and the one single thing that defines existence in these 7,000 islands of 100 million people.