In an exclusive interview, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte discusses his war on drugs and foreign policy.
It’s been about 100 days into the presidency of Rodrigo Duterte.
Since he took power, the Philippine president has overseen the killing of more than 3,500 people in his war on drugs, offended world leaders and strained relations with the US.
In an exclusive first interview since he was sworn in, we talk to Duterte about his controversial war on drugs and foreign policy – including deteriorating relations with the United States and potentially warming relations with China.
“We have three million drug addicts, and it’s growing. So if we do not interdict this problem, the next generation will be having a serious problem … You destroy my country, I’ll kill you. And it’s a legitimate thing. If you destroy our young children, I will kill you. That is a very correct statement. There is nothing wrong in trying to preserve the interest of the next generation.”
But Duterte admits that children and innocent people have also been killed in the bloody crackdown, and promises to investigate these extrajudicial killings, but he also calls them “collateral damage”.
When asked about the contested South China Sea, Duterte says:
“We will not give up anything there; it’s an entitlement … You can only negotiate to prevent a war … They invited me for talks, and I will go.”
The second part of the Duterte interview will be available on Sunday, October 16.
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Source: Al Jazeera News
“China is suppressing Hong Kong’s democratic aspirations”
(There is almost no nation on earth with less respect for human rights than China. But the Philippines under President Duterte is on the path to become one of the worst human rights offenders on the planet.)
China’s record on helping people who are addicted is horrible.
Stars and Stripes
CUBI POINT, Philippines — Shot in the stomach and knee, the man crumpled in the parking lot in front of St. Therese, the old Naval Air Station Cubi Point chapel.
Arman Q. Juaneza’s wounds appeared to be treatable, and a hospital was nearby. But no one wanted to get involved, said Victorio Vizcocho Jr., publisher of the Subic Bay News.
“There were authorities in the area but they didn’t try to save him,” said Vizcocho, whose newspaper was formerly the official publication of the U.S. naval base here.
The 43-year-old man died. Vizcocho said the killing was thought to be connected to Chinese drug operations.
Almost two months later, police have yet to make an arrest in the killing, which took place inside the still-fenced and guarded former U.S. military facility now known as the Subic Bay Freeport.
Not many want to get involved in the deadly drama that has claimed more than 3,400 lives in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte took office June 30 and began his uncompromising war on drugs. He has encouraged citizens to kill drug dealers, and told Philippine National Police that he will support them in doing so as well. In a press conference in August, he was quoted as saying, “My order is to destroy.”
Bodies are sometimes found with signs tagging them as addicts or dealers, and many Filipinos support the counternarcotics campaign, Vizcocho said.
Duterte has said that the drug problem is even worse that he thought, so similar scenes are likely to continue to play out on the streets.
“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews … there’s 3 million drug addicts… I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte said recently, before apologizing to Jews.
But the man who earned the nickname “Duterte Harry” while carrying out a similar purge as mayor of the southern city of Davao isn’t apologetic about his extrajudicial campaign, bristling profanely at U.S. and U.N. suggestions that he should back off.
Drug war battlefields surround the Freeport, which retains much of the character from its time as a U.S. military installation, including guard posts at its main entrances. The vacated Navy facilities have been occupied by commercial operations, including restaurants, shops and schools.
There’s a striking contrast between the American-style development inside the fence and the hustle and bustle of ordinary Filipino towns outside, where motorcycle taxis and open-sided jeepney buses weave along narrow lanes made narrower by roadside vendors hawking everything from Chinese Christmas lights to bows and arrows.
In Olongapo City, bordering the port and home to 220,000 people, drug users seeking rehabilitation can be trained and paid to build wooden coffins, Reuters reported this month.
Data released by the Olongapo Police, who have dubbed their counternarcotic effort “Project Double Barrel,” show that, between July 1 and Oct. 5, 13 drug suspects were killed and 220 arrested in 111 raids and 1,201 house visits. Police confiscated 584 sachets of shabu, or methamphetamines, and more than 1,000 confessed drug users and dealers have voluntarily surrendered. Vizcocho said police have battled drug problems in the area for decades but that criminal groups involved in shabu manufacture and sale have become more organized.
Robert Jessop, left, 73, a Canadian veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam and Scott Sims, 57, a retired Navy chief warrant officer pose outside the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Subic Bay, Philippines, Saturday Oct. 8, 2016. SETH ROBSON/STARS AND STRIPES
In one day in Subic Town, at the other end of the bay from the port, 5,000 people confessed to drug offenses and surrendered to police. Those who surrender have their names added to a list. Some have been killed after they were sent home, he said.
“At least 20 people have been killed around Subic Bay in recent months,” he said.
Most Filipinos support the counternarcotics campaign, Vizcocho said.
“They don’t appear to understand the long-term implications of what is going on,” he said. “If police are doing things that they know are illegal and if they are able to get away with it, it is going to erode the normal values of society.”
The neighborhood where Juaneza was killed looks a lot like it did when the Americans were there. The Tiara Hotel — once officers’ quarters — still stands like a flaking white dinosaur beside the chapel, which was repaired after its roof collapsed from the weight of dust from the Mount Pinatubo eruption in 1991.
Juaneza’s killing is said to involve links to Chinese drug manufacturers. Subic Bay is believed to be an entry point for ingredients used to manufacture crystal methamphetamine, the cheap drug of choice among the poor.
Ella Quinto, 26, who works at a convenience store behind the chapel, said some of the victim’s coworkers were at the shop when the shooting happened. Images from the store’s security camera disappeared, she said, but she isn’t scared.
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