Death-squad boss elected president of Philippines?

Presidential election results in the Philippines came in May 10, with bombastic anti-crime hardliner Rodrigo Duterte emerging the victor. Ruling-party candidate Mar Roxas quickly conceded defeat. Duterte is the mayor of Davao City in the conflicted southern island of Mindanao—which has been hit by a wave of death-squad terror in recent years. The paramilitaries are ostensibly a response to crime and narco networks on the island, but ecology activists and peasant leaders have also been targeted. Duterte has been named as a mastermind of the paramilitaries, and certainly makes no bones about his intolerant position on drug use. "All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you," he Duterte told a huge cheering crowd in his final campaign rally in Manila. "I have no patience, I have no middle ground, either you kill me or I will kill you idiots."

The president-elect has won some telling nick-names, including "Duterte Harry" (a reference to the Clint Eastwood character Dirty Harry), "The Punisher," and the "Trump of the Philippines"—this last one a reference to his penchant for sick misogynist "humor."

But his rape jokes are cast in a much more sinister light given his apparent links to actual human rights atrocities. Duterte has equivocated on whether he actually does command the paramilitaries. But in an interview with a local TV station last year, he openly admitted his link to the notorious Davao Death Squad (DDS). "They say I am the death squad? True, that is true," Duterte said. The DDS is allegedly responsible for the killing of more than 1,000 suspected criminals in the city since Duterte became mayor in 1988.

Unlike Trump, however, Duterte's roots (at least) are on the political left, and he's posed himself as a champion of the poor and common people against the traditional ruling elite of the Philippines. But his growing emphasis on a hardline anti-crime stance seems to be blurring the lines between left and right. In any case, interntional human rights groups should be watching very closely for an expansion of paramilitary activity in the Philippines.

Cross-post to High Times and Global Ganja Report

  1. Duterte: slain journalists deserved it

    "Just because you're a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you're a son of a bitch," Duterte said when asked how he would address the problem of media killings in the Philippines after a reporter was shot dead in Manila last week.

    The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines described the comments as "appalling". It conceded there were corruption problems in the industry but said these did not justify murdering reporters. "He has also, in effect, declared open season to silence the media, both individual journalists and the institution, on the mere perception of corruption," the NUJP said in a statement. (AFP, June 1)

    Reporters Without Borders has urged the Philippine media to boycott the press conferences of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte until he issues a formal, public apology over his statements on media killings. (GMA, June 1)

  2. Philippine communists embrace death-squad boss?

    We conitnue to be more and more confused by this Duterte character. It now seems he has appointed Joel Maglungsod, a former NPA guerilla and now a lawmaker with the left-wing Anakpawis party, as his labor secretary. Another former Anakpawis lawmaker, Rafael Mariano, has been appointed as agrarian reform secretary. (Inquirer) Anything to say about death threats against journalists, Maglungsod and Mariano? Just asking.

  3. Philippines prez urges citizens to kill ‘drug addicts’

    Upon being sworn in as president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte wasted no time in launching a foul-mouthed tirade threatening to unleash a reign of terror against drug users. See full story at Global Ganja Report

  4. Philippines prez delivers on deadly drug war pledge

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office with a pledge to unleash a deadly crackdown on drug users and other miscreants—and he's sure delivered. By official count, police have slain 200 drug suspects since his inauguration, with rights groups claiming a similar number of extrajudicial executions. See full story at Global Ganja Report

  5. Philippines: military camps for drug users?

    In his increasingly draconian anti-drug crackdown, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called for military camps to be opened as "rehabilitation centers" where drug users will be interned. See full story at Global Ganja Report