By Mason Mohon | Philippines
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines is notorious for his phenomenally dangerous and tyrannical war on drugs. His version of the war on drugs is mass slaughter of dealers and users in the streets, having barely any mercy. His drug war started in mid-2016, and since then over 12,000 have been killed.
Duterte isn’t holding back in any capacity when it comes to this drug war. It has escalated to the point of silencing opposition, for as Human Rights Watch reported:
Since the “drug war” began on June 30, 2016, Duterte and his officials have publicly reviled, humiliated and, in one instance, jailed human rights advocates. Senator Leila de Lima, the president’s chief critic, has been detained since February 2017 on politically motivated drug charges in apparent retaliation for leading a Senate inquiry into the drug war killings and, early on, opening an investigation of the Davao Death Squad in Davao City, where Duterte was mayor for more than 20 years.
This has caught international attention, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opened a preliminary probe against Duterte. As Al Jazeera reports:
The Netherlands-based body is currently conducting “preliminary examination” of its jurisdiction to oversee the case. Some legal experts see this as the first step towards a full prosecution of the controversial Filipino leader, who has lashed out at the international tribunal as “hypocritical” and “useless”.
But will he back down? Chances are, no.
In response to the probe, Rodrigo Duterte stated that they would have to kill him by firing squad before he stopped. He’s stated that the drug war will go on as long as he is in office, and he doesn’t plan on pulling anything back in response to the ICC probe.
People in the United States are probably thankful that we do not have such a brutal war on drugs, but what is it that really sets us apart. Duterte is slaughtering masses, we are incarcerating masses and slaughtering a few, but what’s the real difference between these numbers?
One could say that Duterte’s response to drug dealing is out of proportion, but so is ours. The American war on drugs slaps mandatory minimums on tiny crimes, destroying families and livelihoods, and then parades itself around as the virtuous hand of justice, but Duterte and the DEA are both guilty of the same unethical action: initiating force against voluntarily interacting individuals.
Hopefully, the ICC probe does not spiral out of control, but with president Duterte it is hard to predict. Here in the United States, though, we should realize that we are supposed to be a shining beacon to the world, so let us act like one. We need to open our eyes and realize the drug war is a failure, and change needs to be made.
Image from Rappler.