Duterte’s Drug War Vigilantes Kill Without ‘Fear’ Or ‘Conscience’

REUTERS/Cheryl Ravelo

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter
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The president of the Philippines has started a war in which people can kill without fear, a professed vigilante told reporters recently.

“We no longer have any fear, nor does it bother our conscience every time we kill these people,” a vigilante explained to The New York Times. “We kill people who are a menace to society.”

The man revealed that he had killed someone just a few days before the interview.

After taking office as president last summer, President Rodrigo Duterte launched a shoot-to-kill drug war that has claimed the lives of an estimated 8,000 Filipinos. Thousands of people have died in official police operations, but thousands more have perished at the hands of rogue cops and vigilantes in incidents believed to be extrajudicial killings.

The president asserts that he is not behind the ongoing killings, and while that may be true, Duterte has, nonetheless, been very outspoken in his support. “To all the military men listening and all the police officers, go out and hunt for them,” the president said. “If you cannot arrest them without your life being in jeopardy, kill the idiot, and I will protect you.”

“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts … I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte said in a separate speech.

“As the cliché goes, ‘It’s up to the heavens whatever happens to us.’ But, we do believe we are taking out the really bad people,” the vigilante told reporters, adding, “I think, what I gather from what [Duterte’s] been saying is that, should we get caught, we would be freed eventually.”

The vigilante’s statements were presented in a 15-minute documentary titled, “When a President Says, ‘I’ll Kill You,'” the follow-up to a story on Duterte’s rise to power and affinity for violence.

“He is a child of privilege turned populist politician, an anti-drug crusader who has struggled with drug abuse,” The NYT wrote. “Obsessed with death, he has turned his violent vision into national policy.”

The Duterte administration has responded negatively to reports by The New York Times, claiming that the story “sounds like a well-paid hack job for well-heeled clients with shady motives.”

The presidential palace believes that the Times is behind a sponsored effort to oust Duterte.

“The New York Times’ very obvious demolition work flies in the face of the very high approval President Rodrigo Roa Duterte enjoys,” said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella. “One can only conclude that certain personalities and politicians have mounted a well-funded campaign utilizing hack writers and their ilk in their bid to oust the president.”

The New York Times “stir global outrage in a nation that welcomes its newfound peace and order,” he added. “The administration will not be deterred in fulfilling its promise of building a progressive and inclusive nation free from drugs, crimes and corruption.”

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