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.
Barely three months in office, President Rodrigo Duterte has shocked, surprised, and outraged groups as diverse as human rights defenders, journalists and media advocacy organizations as well as those individuals who expect presidents to be more circumspect in both speech and manner.
The Duterte administration’s campaign against the illegal drug trade and drug abuse apparently assumes that the government can purge the country of its drug problem by killing small-time suspected drug pushers and even users.