Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s ruthless war on drugs reached a new high with 60 people alone killed by police this week, a war that a leading human rights group described as new depths of barbarity.
Authorities said on Thursday, 28 were killed by police in an overnight crackdown in the capital Manila. This followed 32 killed earlier on Monday night in Bulacan province, bordering the capital, the highest figure in a single day. Together, they mark the deadliest period of a drugs-focused crackdown that has killed thousands of Filipinos, and caused international alarm, since Duterte took office over a year ago.
"New depts of barbarity"
"These shocking deaths are a reminder that President Duterte's lawless 'war on drugs' continues unabated and actually appears to be plumbing new depths of barbarity, with police routinely gunning down suspects, violating the key right to life and completely flouting due process,” Amnesty International said on Aug. 16, reacting to Monday’s death toll.
Immunity against crime
Duterte came to power on June 30, following an election campaign in which he promised to use deadly force to wipe out crime and drugs. Following Monday’s killings, Duterte said it was good that 32 criminals had been killed in Bulacan, then added: "Let's kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what ails this country." On Thursday, he brazenly said he would not just pardon police officers who killed drug offenders during the anti-narcotics campaign, but also promote them.
“Using the highest office in the country, Duterte has explicitly approved and encouraged violence that has involved thousands of extrajudicial executions in the government’s anti-drug campaign,” Amnesty said. The London-based rights watchdog said, “This shows clearly that there should be no further delay in establishing an internationally led investigation into the ‘war on drugs’ and the carnage currently taking place in the Philippines on a daily basis.”
Chito Gascon, the chairman of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, said Duterte's comments emboldened police "to do their worst." "The police are essentially free to do what they will because they are almost guaranteed that they will not be investigated or charged," Gascon said.
Activists as targets
Duterte hit out against human rights groups on Wednesday for obstructing his anti-drugs campaign and said police should shoot them if they obstructed justice, a remark the New York-based Human Rights Watch said puts activists "in grave danger". (Source: Reuters/...)