Asia Minute: Deaths and Controversy Both Increasing in the Philippines

Aug 18, 2016

Rodrigo Duterte showing diagram of drug trade network earlier this year.
Credit Wikipedia Commons

A controversy in the Philippines has moved to a new level this week.  The case involves the president, drug dealers, and hundreds of deaths in less than two months. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

When he campaigned for the Philippine presidency earlier this year, Rodrigo Duterte promised to violently crack down on drug dealers.  In his first fifty days in office, the bodies have been piling up.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer publishes what it calls a “kill list” of suspected drug dealers and users killed by police and vigilantes.  Their count is approaching 700 since Duterte took office on June 30th.  National news outlet ABS CBN puts the death toll at more than a thousand since Duterte started encouraging the violence in his campaign.

On Thursday, the head of the national police told the Philippine Senate his officers are investigating 899 deaths “outside those attributed to police operations.”  Ronald dela Rosa said those include people shot, stabbed and “the dead who were just found floating along canals, the dead who were dumped along roads with their hands tied and their faces, eyes and mouths taped.”

Officials of Human Rights Watch and the United Nations have condemned both the deaths and Duterte’s reaction to them.   The Philippine President dismissed the criticisms—saying his government is willing to undergo any investigation into those killings.  The head of the national police will be back in front of a Senate committee on Monday….testifying about those deaths.