I Read the News Today, Oh Boy! Observations from a Week in the Philippines

Effigy of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The news from the Philippines has been horrific over the last couple of years, especially worsening since the installation into office of President Rodrigo Duterte in July 2016.  Duterte, initially seen as a progressive hope, instead initiated a “War on Drugs,” in which somewhere over 20,000 people–some as young as 14–have been killed.  Jerome Adonis, Secretary General of the Kilusang Mayo Uno Labor Center (KMU-May First Movement), however, told me the figure was higher, that somewhere between 26,000-30,000 people have been killed in urban areas alone.

Apparently–and I would argue delusionally–Duterte seems to think that if he could eradicate all the drugs in the Philippines, then everything would be alright for the people in this country.  (I know the problem simply could not be capitalism….)

Most of these acts against drug using/selling suspects have been summarily carried out by police and officials, meaning many have been executed on the street and even in their own homes.  We’re not talking “due process” here.  A lot of cases have been claimed to “have happened” while “resisting arrest.”  A more proper term is “assassination.”  Although it has apparently slowed somewhat over time, assassins (often, but not always, police officers) were initially getting paid 20,000 pesos (roughly US $400)/head, with a quota of six-eight people daily.  And the victims have overwhelmingly been the urban…

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