The Washington Post
October 4 at 3:41 PM

Francisco Santiago is a rare and dangerous thing in a state-led killing rampage: a witness.

In the early hours of Sept. 13, on a dark street in the heart of the city, Santiago was shot through the chest and arms in what Philippine police called a drug bust gone wrong but that Santiago insists was a setup.

When the bullets hit, he played dead, lying still until he felt the bright lights of the media upon him. With cameras rolling, he raised his blood-slick arms in surrender — alive, for now.

President Rodrigo Duterte swept to power in June promising war, and he has delivered.

Just over three months into his tenure, more than 3,300 people are dead, with 1,239 gunned down in police raids and 2,150 shot by unknown assailants, according to the Philippine national police.

Duterte ‘happy to slaughter’ drug addicts like Hitler ‘massacred’ Jews


Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte compared his anti-drugs campaign to Hitler’s persecution of Jews during WWI, saying, “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts…I’d be happy to slaughter them.” Adolf Hitler massacred six million Jews in the Holocaust. (Reuters)

The victims include suspected drug dealers and users, as well as people misidentified as such. They also include at least two children, ages 4 and 5, felled by bullets meant for others.

Bodies are hastily pulled from crime scenes or dumped in ditches, often alongside cardboard signs that say “pusher” — as if a word alone were proof enough.

The European Union, the United Nations and the United States have called for an end to the violence, but to no avail. When President Obama raised the issue, Duterte lectured him on co­lo­ni­al­ism and used a slang term that translates, approximately, as “son of a whore.”

Local critics fare worse. Leila de Lima, a Philippine senator who this summer launched an investigation into extrajudicial killings, was ousted as chair of the Senate’s human rights committee in what Human Rights Watch called a “craven attempt to derail accountability.”

She has since been publicly accused of sleeping with her driver and taking bribes from drug lords, and her phone number and address were leaked.

Eyewitnesses to killings stay silent, terrified that they could be targeted next.

Duterte denies that these are state-backed crimes, saying Philippine police act in self-defense and for the good of society.

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