The President of the Philippines has again come under scrutiny for his ‘jokes’. In the past he has made comments about women’s competence, threatened to slap UN investigators (for investigating his drug war) and joked about rape to name just a handful of his detestable statements.
He has also come under fire for his drug war which has, according to government sources, killed at least 5,000 citizens. Human Rights Watch has estimated that the number is closer to 12,000. Many of these people have been killed extrajudicially. The killings are completed by and covered up by law enforcement and entities associated with law enforcement. This makes them difficult to investigate, leaving Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other non-governmental monitors with educated guesses as to the actual totals of dead.
Duterte’s drug war has been widely popular with much of the population. The President ran on an anti-drug campaign, claiming that the social and economic and just about any other ill in the country was caused by drug users and dealers. Once elected, Duterte said to ‘go ahead and kill’ drug addicts. He has used similar rhetoric in addresses to law enforcement and media. This has been interpreted as a green light from the highest authority for extrajudicial killings (something that the President has hinted at accepting role in).
The war on drugs in the Philippines has paid particular attention to Shabu (a form of methamphetamine that is just as highly addictive), MDMA and marijuana. This is what makes Duterte’s recent comments most inflammatory.
The President of the Philippines has made the strange and frankly infuriating statement that he “uses marijuana” to stay awake, after he was absent from some of the meetings at the ASEAN summit. An aide to the President clarified that this was another case of the President’s sick sense of humour in action.
Regardless of whether this was a joke, the statement was intended to kick the families of the victims of his drug war while they are down.
I wonder whether law enforcement will take it as a green light to raid the Presidential palace.
By Nathan Booth