Since Rodrigo Duterte was elected President of the Philippines on June 30, a campaign of extrajudicial killings in the name of the “war on drugs” has been running rampant. In a few months, about 3,400 people have been killed, including “drug dealers” and “drug addicts,” while more than 700,000 Filipinos surrendered themselves “spontaneously” to the authorities for fear of falling victims of the campaign of incitement to violence.
In April, when speaking to a large crowd in his hometown of Davao, Duterte asked Filipinos to kill those drug dealers who resisted arrest or refused to be brought into the precincts, urging those present to “not hesitate to call the police,” or, if holding a gun, to “go ahead.” Unfortunately, since July, it has moved from words to deeds. The day after the inauguration of his presidency, Duterte told a group of policemen: “Do your duty against dealers and if in doing so, 1,000 people are killed, I will protect you.” On the same day similar messages, but this time directed against addicts, were shouted in front of a cheering crowd.
Thankfully, not all Filipinos think like Duterte. Senator Leila de Lima, who had previously conducted independent investigations into the activities of death squads in Davao, organized parliamentary hearings into the killings. Now, she fears for her safety because Duterte has launched a smear campaign against her accusing her of drug trafficking, one of the most dangerous accusations in the Philippines these days.