Let’s imagine a scenario: You are walking down the street in the daytime in public areas such as bars, cafes, markets et cetera, and small groups of two or three men arrive on unlicensed motorbikes and stab a passerby just next to you, and shoot another one. Now, they get off their motorbikes and put a piece of cardboard on the dead bodies. The cardboard usually serves as a sign as well as the reason why the person was killed. Mainly, these titles are ‘DRUG DEALER’, ‘PUSHER’, ‘SNATCHER’ or ‘USER’. Then they casually get back on their bikes and ride off. This whole scene happens in the presence of at least a hundred people.

philippines death squad

No, this is not a typical Gangster movie scene. This is the untold story of what happens in present day Philippines.

Apparently, Philippines has different ways to deal with crimes and the Death Squad way is the most common one. The question arises: Why is the government not doing anything about it? Maybe because the president himself is the biggest death squad supporter. The Philippines has its own Donald Trump in the form of President Rodrigo Duterte. He was sworn into office this year, and his election campaign interestingly included him making jokes about rape, his own penis, misogynist boasts, saying he wanted to participate in a gang rape, and calling Pope Francis hideous names.

Also, Mr.Duterte wants to bring the Death penalty back to a country that has a majority of the population as Catholics. In a place where citizens believe even divorce to be illegal, the question of a death penalty is inconceivable; and this is no normal death penalty. Mr. Duterte wants to kill a criminal twice- after the first hanging there will be a ceremony for the second time, until the head is completely severed from the body.

But while Duterte’s sexist remarks and alleged rights abuses have garnered the largest share of attention abroad, he is more than simply a cartoon villain who sprang to life and seized control of Philippines’s politics. Part of why Duterte’s brutal policies — such as vowing to wipe out illegal activity in six months and encouraging citizens with guns to kill drug dealers- have resonated in the Philippines is because reported crime and drug dealing has skyrocketed in the country.

The death squad has reportedly killed around 1400 people, who they believe to be criminals, in a similar fashion till date. Human rights groups are trying to find a connection between the squad and the president, but who has the power to investigate the president?

Duterte and his supporters should try to understand the human stories of drug users before inciting further murder. Until then blood will flow like a river in the small island, the truth of whether the dead were guilty will never be proved, and will barely even be questioned. Unless certain judicial actions are taken, the fish of the Manila Bay will keep being fattened due to the bodies of thousands of dead people in the water.

  • Nidhi Dave
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