Philippines article- The State of the Philippines News Column
March 8, 2017
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Violence in the Philippines has been out of control, however it hasn’t been primarily due to the citizens, but actually the Government, whose led by Rodrigo Duterte.
June 30th, 2016, Rodrigo Duterte became the 16th President of the Philippines. Since then he has launched a massive anti-drug campaign. However this is no ordinary campaign, rehabilitation is not the main goal. Duterte’s main goal has been ending drug use tin any way possible, including plainly killing drug users and dealers.
In his first three months of office over 3,000 killings had been reported due to his anti drug campaign. Duterte has even been quoted saying, “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there is three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Duterte himself has admitted to personally killing drug users, he has not hid that from the public.
After being asked about Duterte in an interview, a resident of the Philippines who requested anonymity due to them applying for a visa explained, “Duterte is willing and able to kill drug users and dealers because they are easy scapegoats to blame for the present problems of Philippine society, instead of addressing the root conflicts of Philippine society, such as wealth inequality and capitalist plunder.
Let me also preface this to say that Duterte is not willing to kill the rich and wealthy drug users and dealers. His war on drugs mainly targets the poor and oppressed, those who live in slum areas, without access to education or the legal means to fight back. Decades of dehumanization of the poor and oppressed have allowed him to slaughter this sector.”
Another resident went on to talk about Duterte in relation to the drug epidemic stating, “Duterte’s obsession with this drug epidemic is precisely that: an obsession. I’m not saying it’s nonexistent nor harmless, but very little else of the country’s ills are ever addressed”
However even after Duterte’s blatant killings he still retains a lot of support from civilians. “Duterte is still popular because he still frames himself as someone who gives actual material benefits such as increased security and safety to people. Criminals and drug addicts have already suffered from decades of dehumanization, and their rampant slaughter of them is unfortunately, something new but doesn’t seem very out of place in the country that has historically seen the wholesale murder of activists, workers, and labor leaders.”
The killings have not just been limited to drug users as well, journalists for many years have been targeted as well. 174 assassinations have happened since the Marcos dictatorship in 1972. No doubt it remains as one of the most dangerous places to be a journalist. Duterte once said in regard to journalists “Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong.” “Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination if you’re a son of a bitch.”
After discussing the state of the country one resident had this to say, “For people like me—middle-class folks who live relatively comfortable lives in the city—to call the country’s condition brought about by Duterte’s irresponsible antics as “a bad place” assumes that everyone who lives in the Philippines lives the same kind of life as I do, which isn’t true. While my life feels mildly inconvenienced, the majority of the Philippines—especially those who live under the poverty line, don’t have access to proper education, healthcare, or sustainable employment—has lived, and will continue to live in squalid conditions regardless of who the president of the country is.
That being said, the Philippines has never been in a good place, as all of its leaders thus far have sustained the nation-state through imperialist, neoliberal, patriarchal means. The phenomena that many people associate Duterte’s administration with—corruption, systemic violence, state repression, extrajudicial killings—are not new occurrences at all: the only difference with Duterte is that while he propagates the same culture of violence, he’s not afraid of airing out the dirty laundry.”