U.S. Citizen Caught in Anti-Drug Sweeps in the Philippines

Jun 12 13:06 2019 Print This Article

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has been waging a blood-drenched campaign against illegal drugs that many human rights advocates say has reached the point of crimes against humanity. It only rarely makes headlines here in the U.S., but the situation is currently set to escalate yet further.Following last month’s midterm elections in the Philippines, Duterte’s ruling bloc now has a supermajority in the country’s Senate, which means the opposition stands practically no chance of blocking the extraordinary powers he is seeking to pursue his “drug war.” Among the winners is Duterte’s former National Police chief, Ronald della Rosa, who until stepping down to run for the Senate was at the helm the ultra-murderous drug crackdown. This almost certainly means the long-sought medical marijuana law in the Philippines is now dead. The measure passed the Philippines’ House of Representatives in January, but now stands little chance in the Senate. Duterte himself has flip-flopped on the issue — even saying in December that used cannabis himself to stay awake, but shortly later backpedaling, saying he was “joking.”  Human Rights Watch lectured him that it is no laughing matter, with 12,000 killed by his National Police and unaccountable paramilitary forces since he took office in June 2016. Others have put the death toll as high as 20,000 — with small-time users and dealers comprising the majority of those casualties.More disturbingly, Duterte’s supermajority may allow him to push through his proposed constitutional changes, giving him sweeping powers to execute his “drug war,” rule by decree, and stay in power indefinitely. All too tellingly, in Duterte’s draft constitution there is no longer any mention that the Philippine government “guarantees full respect for human rights.”

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