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Philippines President Duterte Playfully 'Jokes' About All His Drug War Murders

"My only sin is the extrajudicial killings."

Rodrigo DuterteLEAN DAVAL JR/ELOISA LOPEZ/NewscomIn a speech Thursday, Philllipines President Rodrigo Duterte, infamous for encouraging the summary executions of anybody suspected of involvement in drugs, admitted to his killings, kind of, sort of, maybe. From The New York Times:

He said he had challenged the country's military and police brass to remove him from office if they were not satisfied with the way he was running the country.

"I told the military, what is my fault? Did I steal even one peso?" Mr. Duterte said. "My only sin is the extrajudicial killings."

Well, that's quite a sin. A spokesperson subsequently claimed that Duerte was merely "being himself, being playful, highlighting the point that he isn't corrupt." His foes are treating the quote seriously, though, hoping to use it as an admission that he's responsible for all the deaths.

The police in the Phillipines have killed thousands in their brutal, doomed war on drugs. They acknowledge killing about 4,500 users and dealers, claiming they're all justified uses of force—apparently the suspects all keep resisting arrest. Human rights activists put the death toll much higher, between 8,000 and 12,000. One political opponent believes it's probably more than 20,000.

The International Criminal Court is currently investigating Duterte for "crimes against humanity." He has responded by pulling his country out of the treaty that established the court.

He also promised that his brutal drug war will continue while he's in office, racking up executions every single day. Take that as a reminder that our own drug war could be even worse. President Donald Trump, by way, says he'd like us to follow in Duterte's footsteps.

Photo Credit: LEAN DAVAL JR/ELOISA LOPEZ/Newscom

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  • ||

    At least he's not a hypocrit!

  • O Square||

    +1 Norm

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    President Donald Trump, by way, says he'd like us to follow in Duterte's footsteps.

    Fortunately we kind of have almost close to ironclad mechanisms to prevent extrajudicial killings here.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Trump have to call snipers on each individual extrajudicial killing he wanted. And so I'm hopeful, as we can all agree that Trump is lazier than Obama.

  • ||

    we can all agree that Trump is lazier than Obama

    And this, right here, is Our Greatest Hope.

  • ||

    I have been saying this since the election. When the government fails to act, the People win.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Is it with Trump laziness or limited attention span?

  • Inigo Montoya||

    I'm not sure if poor targeting during drone strikes really counts as a prevention mechanism.

  • Cathy L||

    They acknowledge killing about 4,500 users and dealers

    Let's not pretend this is anything more than a "claim"; why believe these were users and dealers as opposed to poor souls whose neighbors were angry with them for any random petty slight?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    You know who else was the recipient of a huge injustice because their neighbors were angry with them for a random, petty slight?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Poland?

  • Paloma||

    My cousin Debbie?

  • ||

    Rand Paul?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    No, close, nice try, but the question is plural, neighbors.

  • ||

    The Hatfields? No - the McCoys!

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Rand Paul?

  • Inigo Montoya||

    You are far too kind. I figured most of them are either critics of the Duerte regime, critics of the police, or both. I think a cop that carries out murder is hardly going to draw the line at planting a bit of evidence just in case "was it really drug-related?" question is ever raised down the line.

  • ||

    ^ This.

    I'm surprised this hasn't happened before, actually, that a murderous dictator says to himself, "wait - why don't I just accuse all my critics of being involved in the drug trade? Then I'll be applauded for murdering them!"

  • ||

    I suppose there was Uribe in Columbia, but he seemed less brazen about it.

  • vek||

    I don't think you understand how these things usually work... Most people always applaud the killing. People loved Franco, Pinochet, Saddam etc for cracking heads. Often times for good reason, because the guys they were killing were worse than them.

    Obviously drug users don't deserve it. We're not at the point where a right wing coup is preferable to the status quo... But in 10 or 20 years? Maybe if the leftists keep winning. So IMO they usually don't even need the cover of blaming it on drugs.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    "Most people applaud the killings..."

    No, I do know about those examples, and I would even add Hitler to the list. A mob mentality is unfortunately all too common, and what's worse is that, by the time many people are emboldened enough to be calling for mass killings, most who don't agree become too scared to speak up.

    This is the main reason why pure democracy is scary: like two wolves and one sheep voting on what's for dinner. You always need to defend the rights of the minority.

  • vek||

    Yes and no. Not all "minorities" should be protected. Honestly, I don't think killing is always unwarranted. I'm not a pacifist. Even large scale killing is often the best choice for maintaining a decent society. The trick is doing it only to people who have it coming, and in an orderly and lawful way. Note especially THOSE WHO HAVE IT COMING. Drug users don't deserve death. Terrorists? Communist revolutionaries? Sounds legit to me. After a real fair trial is preferable, but in a hot war you don't always have time.

    Hitler is an example of shit going waaay overboard... But Franco? Probably a bit overboard, but since the alternative at the time was capitulating to communists... Probably the lesser of two evils. I'm sure he could have been a bit more selective, less vindictive, and more lawful about some of it... But the truth is lots of people NEEDED to be killed in Spain to save the country. Some people cannot be dealt with peacefully. It's a harsh truth, but it is a truth.

    I'm a big grey zone guy, not black and white. I also try to put myself in the time and place when looking at historical matters. Obviously the objective answer for "best outcomes" in a civil war are guys like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson taking over, but that's simply not realistically on the table sometimes.

  • vek||

    All of that kind of bums me out a bit... But it's still true. The world is a fucked up place, and sometimes shit gets real. As a realist I can handle this.

    A lot of people like to sit on their high horse and pretend we can be perfectly principled all the time, but that just doesn't hack it sometimes. As a matter of fact, historically speaking, it almost never gets anybody anywhere. The founding fathers themselves used and advocated strategies that many libertarians are too skerd to even suggest nowadays. You have to have the right mix of pragmatism, principles, and sometimes violence to get shit done most of the time.

    As an example, if people with better intentions had simply been willing to deal more harshly with communists in Germany, it wouldn't have left room for Hitler to come in and get shit handled, and then take it to the crazy extremes he did. There was no possible peaceful and rights respecting situation possible in Germany at the time, because the communists weren't going to play nice.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    He has responded by pulling his country out of the treaty that established the court.

    huh.

  • Juggernaut||

    Karma, we need you desperately.

  • Paloma||

    Yeah, you and Ted Bundy

  • Ken Shultz||

    I've read that a lot of those deaths are attributable to something more like a pogrom. Make it clear, not just to the police but to civilians, too, that they won't be punished for lynching drug addicts, and it isn't really necessary for the czar to send his troops in with express orders to murder civilians.

    A lot of it is apparently like in The Purge franchise--except people aren't killing for fun. Once it becomes clear that the government isn't coming after you for killing somebody if you make it look like he was a drug user, solving that pesky brother in law disputing your inheritance problem suddenly has a novel solution. It should also be noted that Duerte's purge is quite popular in certain sectors.

    No matter how you slice it, we're talking about a moral failure. Violating people's rights is a moral failure, and the popularity of authoritarianism is itself a moral failure.

  • Cathy L||

    This

  • vek||

    Yup, this is exactly how it's going. I don't get getting upset about drugs... But the general idea is understandable. Everybody knows who the thugs are in their area, and just whacking them is an easy solution. Immoral or not, I bet crime will drop in the Philippines.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Everybody may know who the thugs are in their area, but I guarantee it's not just thugs who get swept up in the pogrom.

    Just look at the Holocaust: it wasn't only about Jews. They also tried to eliminate gypsies (who were perceived, no doubt with some justification, for being behind a lot of street crime), gays, mental or physically handicapped people, and of course their political opponents.

    Even if some of us are comfortable with painting entire groups of people as "street thugs" (which is terrible in itself), you will invariably get other "enemies" added to the kill list.

  • vek||

    The slippery slop argument is legit in many cases. But it's not always a 100% thing either. All those groups were targeted up front by the Nazis, not just accidentally slipped in. Sometimes targeting XYZs only results in killing XYZs.

    Honestly, I think rule of law is the most important part of the whole thing. I honestly don't have a problem with extremely harsh punishment of criminals, provided there are fair trials, and some semblance of proportionality. If child rapists/murderers were executed by being slowly lowered into vats of acid... I wouldn't lose much sleep over it.

    Modern people in the west have got suuuper soft about stuff. Almost every society in human history dealt with dirt bags infinitely harsher, and largely because people don't want that shit. I imagine being super harsh in some instances probably does provide a lot better outcomes for society overall. Stuff like locking people up in prison for life for instance... Easier/better to just kill them. Why don't we? Because we're soft.

    But if you're not soft, why wouldn't you just go the harsh route if it has better outcomes? Hence most of human history.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    " I bet crime will drop in the Philippines." So murder is not a crime?

  • vek||

    Of course it is, but other crimes will probably drop more than the single murder per "bad person" I would imagine. Most thieves steal shit all the time. Same with just about all other types of crime.

    I obviously don't think drug use should be illegal, let alone punishable by death... But since it is illegal, the types that tend to get involved in mid to higher level drug stuff around the world tend to be dirtbags across the board. See Mexican cartels. Also, since drugs are so expensive it does force many addicts into other petty crime to support their habit. If you simply killed them all, crime would probably drop. Not saying that's the best course of action, just sayin' it's probably a likely outcome.

    Chicago would probably be a better city afterwards if you told the good citizens they had free license to shoot all the thugs at will... It's not the "right" way to do it, but when shit gets crazy enough like in 3rd world countries, sometimes that seems the better alternative.

    I'd much rather see it all legalized and having Phillip Morris or whatever running it like a business versus cartels that murder people themselves all the time. People get all upset about pointing out stuff like the above, but to ignore that there are pros and cons in the eyes of many people to bad actions is exactly why many people can't convince people to do things the better way.

  • DajjaI||

    our own drug war could be even worse

    Sure, we could be appointing a judge to the Supreme Court who blames attempted rape on 'addiction'. #ohwait

  • Rob Misek||

    Is that all?

    There are 750,000 abortion murders of innocent helpless babies every year in the US.

    You go Kavanagh!

  • Jerryskids||

    President Donald Trump, by way, says he'd like us to follow in Duterte's footsteps.

    See? Trump's remark about shithole countries wasn't entirely negative! I think you owe Mr. Trump an apology.

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