Rodrigo Duterte and the Drug war

Willa SippelPresident Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has started a “war on drugs” in his country, his goal being to purge all people involved in the drug trade. Extra-judicial killings of Introduction“All of you who are into drugs, you sons of b*tches, I will really kill you,” (1)  promised Rodrigo Duarte, now President of the Philippines, on his campaign trail. He was not afraid of how these comments would be received, or at least he wouldn’t show it. Exuding full confidence in his beliefs, Rodrigo Duterte has not abandoned this rhetoric when he governs today, as he conducts his incredibly controversial, anti-drug campaign.The Philippines, a series of islands in Southeast Asia, are currently experiencing one of the most extreme political climates of the last century. President Rodrigo Duterte is waging an alleged “war on drugs” on his own people by purging anyone who they believe to have an affiliation with drugs. Duterte’s drug war is proving to one of the most deadly events in the Philippines in years. Many are starting to question Duterte’s legitimacy as a leader, and are beginning to wonder if he is conducting the war on drugs because he believes that his solution is best for the Philippines, or because he is abusing his power in order to exert his control over the population. Duterte’s response to the drug war stems from both dealing with a real crisis while simultaneously expanding his own personal power. President Duterte has been a politician for a long time, and has love for his people and his country. He originally started the war on drugs because he saw how much this crisis was hurting his people. Duterte believed that wiping the drug trade off the map entail wiping the people involved off as well.BackgroundRodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, was born in Maasin in the Philippines in 1945. He grew up with much exposure to politics and activism in part of his parents, both of whom were very against the Philippines authoritarian past. In 1988, Duterte was elected mayor of Davao City, and during that time he transformed the crime-riddled city into an extremely safe one. Thus he became more popular in the area and would go on to represent Davao City in the Philippines senate. However, his methods would remain incredibly controversial. Duterte’s main tactic was to rid the city of renegades all together. Purging over 1,000 citizens, Duterte earned the title “The Punisher” while in. Duterte ran for president in 2016 on a strictly anti-drug platform. With an outstanding 38% of the popular vote, President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in May of 2016. Very soon after, Duterte issued a message out to law enforcement officers, “Do your duty, and if in the process you kill 1,000 persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect you,” (Time). Within only a few months of election, Duterte “death squads” had already murdered thousands. His pledge that he had made on the campaign trail, that he would purge all citizens who were believed to be involved in the drug trade, had become a reality. Many initially showed their support, saying that there was no other option and it was justified.Over the course of his first year in office, his ethics were scrutinized over by many human rights groups and people in government. Two U.N. representatives described his tactics as “an indictment to violence,”  to which he responded “F**k you, U.N.” Duterte has made it clear that he couldn’t care less about the human rights aspect of his presidency.President Rodrigo Duterte of the PhilippinesSource: Business InsiderAs cruel and unusual as Duterte’s war on drugs may be, he has a motive for his actions. The Philippines has been in the midst of the drug crisis for a long time, and it has become so detrimental that many citizens believe wiping out those involved is necessary. Crime rates and overdoses had been off the charts before Duterte’s crackdown. Over 16 million citizens are involved somehow, from dealing drugs such as Opium, Marijuana, and Shabu to taking them. This country in the Pacific has, for a long time, had a very complicated history with drugs. The Philippines’ troubled past, as they were repeatedly re-colonized and imperialized by Spain, other countries in Southeast Asia, and the U.S, has significantly contributed to the issue. Overtime, each country began to influence the Philippines’ drug trade. China has been a primary supplier of opium and other narcotics to the Philippines for hundreds of years, and that industry continued underground once the U.S. made narcotics illegal in the early 1900’s. However, when the Philippines gained their independence almost half a century later, and all previous laws regarding limiting drug use were overturned. Slowly, new laws were put in place to make drug use illegal.  Over the years to come, drug use would begin to rise in popularity, with it’s epicenter at the capital of the Philippines, Manila. To much of the global population, Duterte’s war on drugs seems immoral and wrong. Human rights groups such as Amnesty international and Human Rights Watch have publicly spoken against Duterte’s methods to end the drug trade in the Philippines. Results and AnalysisPresident Duterte is waging the war on drugs with the original and fundamental intention of decreasing the drug trade in the Philippines, however his motives are being clouded as his presidency progresses. His megalomaniac tendencies have become increasingly present in the way he addresses the crisis. Duterte is open to showing his support for the Philippine’s historically authoritarian government. In 1986, the Philippines had overthrown dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and just recently Duterte endorsed Marcos’s strategies of dictatorship and leadership. Much of the country, however, did not agree with his claims. This further illustrates the fact that Duterte craves a sort of power. Although he was elected, he doesn’t let that stop him from acting in very authoritarian ways. Just days after he was sworn into office, Duterte called all police officers to murder any drug users/abusers that they might know. “Do your duty, and if in the process you kill 1,000 persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect you. If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful”(Time). Illegal killings of addicts and drug dealers are on the rise, and orchestrated behind the scenes by the Filipino president himself. (Time) It has become clear that the drug war gives Duterte power. His extrajudicial killings made the citizens of the Philippines afraid of him. Much of it is fueled purely because he wants respect. Killing people without due process-makes the people of the Philippines afraid to speak or act out against him. Just over a year after Duterte had been elected, 1,445 people were already killed by the police. Additionally, 15,000 were arrested, and roughly 700,000 turned themselves in or “surrendered.” (pcij.org) These numbers are large, and only increasing. However, the drug war is unique because Duterte is not going to extremes to keep the operation underground, or hidden from the public. He separates himself and the judicial system from the actual murders, but he has announced what he is doing. Duterte is intentionally letting people know what he plans on doing when it comes to the drug war.Nonetheless, the government has repeatedly denied that these murders are without a motive at the scene. They also denied that they are committed knowingly by police. There have been numerous reports of “unidentified gunmen” arriving at people’s house and dragging away suspected users or dealers. These people are usually shot and left in the streets to die. Police then falsify accounts of the murders in order to avoid persecuting Duterte’s hitmen. There is no due process or justice involved.   According to NPR, in a public address made by Duterte, he was quoted saying, “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now, there is 3 million – what is it? – 3 million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Through this message, it is clear that he is not afraid, perhaps even proud, to be compared to a immensely controversial figure in history. By saying such things, Duterte is demanding respect from his people through scare tactics. Duterte feels that fear will keep him in power and the country under his control. He wants everyone to understand that he is not one to be messed with. In a way, he is even returning to authoritarian rule ideology. The president is a man of the people as well, and he initially fought for the greater good for them. Because he grew up with much exposure to politics and government, he has had to appeal to the needs of the people in order to remain popular. When he was mayor of Davao City, he conducted a much smaller scale war on drugs. But instead of backlash, he received a huge amount of praise for “straightening out the city.” On the contrary, Duterte has gained a lot of support in his movement as well. According to Time Magazine, right after he was elected, 91% of Filipinos had a “high degree of trust” in their president. A maintenance worker was quoted, saying “all the addicts will be straightened out…The people killed are the dirt of society. What Duterte’s doing, his war on illegal drugs, is right. It’s good.” (Time)   Moving forward Overall, Duterte is conducting his war on drugs A number of things could happen moving forward. Duterte could carry out his plan to kill off half the population of the Philippines, or maybe the U.N. and human rights groups will step in before then. Duterte will begin to lose his original goal of ending drug abuse in the Philippines and slowly start valuing his “war on drugs” more as a scare tactic to exert his control over the country. Zarco, Ricardo M. “A Short History of Narcotic Drug Addiction in the Philippines, 1521-1959.” Philippine Sociological Review, vol. 43, no. 1/4, 1995, pp. 1–15. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23898530.”Duterte is no monster.” Qatar Tribune [Doha, Qatar], 20 Oct. 2017. World History in Context, http://libraries.state.ma.us/login?gwurl=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A510414218/WHIC?u=mlin_c_cwmars=9c3fb6ba. Accessed 15 Jan. 2018.Apostol, Gina. “Speaking in Fascism’s Tongues.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 May 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/05/19/opinion/sunday/philippines-rodrigo-duterte-fascism.html.Malou Mangahas, Karol Ilagan, Vino Lucero, and Davinci Maru. “War on drugs: No EO signed by DU30, a chaos of numbers.” Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 19 Sept. 2016, pcij.org/stories/war-on-drugs-no-eo-signed-by-du30-a-chaos-of-numbers/Ray, Michael. “Rodrigo Duterte.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 13 Sept. 2017, www.britannica.com/topic/Rodrigo-DuterteDomingo, Cindy. “Perspective on the Philippines: the war on drugs: a step toward fascism?” Peace and Freedom, Fall-Winter 2016, p. 10+. World History in Context, http://libraries.state.ma.us/login?gwurl=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A492221541/WHIC?u=mlin_c_cwmars&xid=354db653. Accessed 15 Jan. 2018.”Philippine President Duterte Compares Himself To Hitler.” Weekend All Things Considered, 1 Oct. 2016. World History in Context, http://libraries.state.ma.us/login?gwurl=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A467659603/WHIC?u=mlin_c_cwmars&xid=a92a53bb. Accessed 17 Jan. 2018.Rauhala, Emily. “With hero’s burial for Ferdinand Marcos, Duterte endorses Philippines’ authoritarian past.” Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2016. World History in Context, http://libraries.state.ma.us/login?gwurl=http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A470550606/WHIC?u=mlin_c_cwmars&xid=b417f577. Accessed 17 Jan. 2018.

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