President Rodrigo Duterte is exploiting the rivalry of China and the US to wage a war on drugs that is cover for a tide of extrajudicial killings
More than a thousand Filipinos have reportedly been murdered or disappeared as a result of Presidents Dutertes war on drugs in little more than a month since he took charge.
There is little to suggest that Rodrigo Duterte will change tack he has plenty of domestic credit in the bank, and foreign governments thus far are ignoring the evidence of a mass tide of extrajudicial killings, despite his overt warnings. Beijing and Washingtons quest for dominance in the South China Sea trumps what Human Rights Watch describes as government-sanctioned butchery.
So-called kill lists look to be spiralling out of control, with bodies strewn in the most public of places including Edsa, the main freeway that runs through the Metro Manila region. The irony is that the freeway was the location for the people power revolution that ousted the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. Bodies bundled up with tape and labelled snatcher, dealer, pusher or user suggest vigilantes are taking Dutertes wild promise to eradicate all crime seriously. But the truth of whether the dead were guilty will never be proved, and is barely even questioned. Dutertes incitement has quickly created a monster, unleashing murderous criminality.
The kill lists are largely the work of the police. Election rhetoric has quickly become policy with executions on the streets. Some reports estimate that 10 people are killed a day , but nothing can be verified: police forces are able to rely on self-defence, avoiding legal accountability even though there is a strong suggestion that innocent people are being caught up in the carnage.