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Risking all in drug war

PHILIPPINES: Pedicab driver Reyjin dives into a neighbour’s house for a quick meth fix, fearful of taking a bullet to the head in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs but unable to quit.

crime, death, drugs, politics, police, violence,


AFP

Saturday 17 September 2016, 03:35PM


odrigo Duterte rose to the nation’s top job after spending most of the past two decades as mayor of Davao, earning a reputation as a ruthless leader willing to forsake human rights to enforce law-and-order. Photo: Manman Dejeto/AFP
odrigo Duterte rose to the nation’s top job after spending most of the past two decades as mayor of Davao, earning a reputation as a ruthless leader willing to forsake human rights to enforce law-and-order. Photo: Manman Dejeto/AFP

Close to 3,000 people are said to have died violent deaths since Duterte took office over two months ago and immediately implemented his scorched-earth plans to eradicate drugs in society, ordering police to shoot dead traffickers and urging ordinary citizens to kill addicts.

The bloodbath has seen unknown assailants kill more than half the victims, according to police statistics, raising fears that security forces and hired assassins are roaming through communities and shooting dead anyone suspected of being involved in drugs.

Armed police constantly circle in Reyjin’s Manila slum community, but he continues to snort the fumes of the highly addictive methamphetamine known as “shabu” that Duterte has warned is destroying the lives of millions of poor Filipinos.

“It’s scary because I could be next,” said the gaunt, gap-toothed 28-year-old, speaking on the condition his identity not be revealed for security reasons.

The father-of-three said two masked motorcycle gunmen riding in tandem on a motorcycle had shot dead a woman who sold small amounts of drugs to him and other residents.

“She was sitting in the alley when she took two bullets to the head,” he said.

Such riding-in-tandem murders are one of the most common forms of killings by the shadowy assassins.

Often a piece of cardboard, with “drug peddler” or “drug addict” written on it, is placed on the corpse. This has led to the war on crime becoming known as “cardboard justice”.

Meanwhile, police have reported killing 712 people they have branded drug suspects.

National police chief Ronald dela Rosa has repeatedly defended his officers, insisting they only kill when their own lives are in danger.

However, two policemen have been charged with murder over the jailhouse deaths of a father and son, who autopsies showed to have been beaten so badly before being shot that their limbs were broken.

The United Nations, the US government and human rights groups have expressed alarm at the bloodshed, with some critics warning the Philippines is in the midst of a reign of terror as authorities act with no regard for the law.

Duterte and Dela Rosa have repeatedly insisted they are acting within the boundaries of the law, while accusing their critics of siding with the drug traffickers and ignoring the devastating consequences of what they describe as a national shabu crisis.

They say most of the unexplained deaths are being carried out by drug syndicates waging war on each other.

Yet on the day he was sworn into office, Duterte gave a speech to a crowd in a Manila slum in which he called on them to kill drug addicts in their own community.

And in an address to a group of drug addicts who had surrendered to police last week, Dela Rosa called on them to kill their suppliers and burn down their homes.

Dela Rosa later apologised for the comments, saying they were made because he was angry, but they nevertheless added to an atmosphere of a dramatic breakdown in the rule of law.

In Reyjin’s Manila slum, the violence and security presence has slowed the drug trade and made shabu more expensive.

But lots is still available, in what could be a worrying sign for Duterte who vowed during the election campaign that he could completely wipe out the trade within six months.

“If you want to buy, you just go stand there on the street and somebody will approach you,” said Reyjin, who took his first hit of shabu when he was 13.

“You hand over the money and he will tell you to wait and have somebody else deliver the drugs to you.”

Even the shabu “dens”, in which people rent out their huts for addicts to take a hit, are still operating, according to Reyjin.

Reyjin said he earned about 400 pesos (B295) a day, taking passengers on short pedicab trips and occasionally doing odd jobs.

He said he was spending about one quarter of his earnings on shabu. It used to be a 50-peso-a-day habit, but the price of shabu had doubled because of the drug war, according to Reyjin.

Neighbours said the eldest of Reyjin’s three children, a grade-schooler, looked malnourished and often went to school hungry.

The two other siblings looked dirty and were forced to wear hand-me-down clothes in their one-room house, they added.

The neighbours said they also suspected him of stealing small items from their homes to fund his habit.

Reyjin said he was aware of the toll his habit took on his family.

But, even compounded by the threat of his children being orphaned in the drug war, he said he could not stop taking shabu.

“Sometime I tell myself I have to stop,” he said.

“But my body craves it.”

 

 

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yvonne | 17 September 2016 - 21:34:36

He should set up Centres where the  Drug Addicts/ Victims like Reijin can go and NOT be prosecuted and helped ( and their family looked after in SAFETY in  the meantime)to get to the DRUG LORDS who are all Billionaires and RID the beautiful Phillipines and Citizens , of this Scourge. They can give INFO of their Suppliers for IMMUNITY and start breaking down the CHAIN that has been entrenched. UNFORTUNATELY, his way is the ONLY WAY  to eradicate this scourge once and for all. ALL other methods have failed WORLDWIDE.! BUT certain aspects is LACKING and  NEEDS BACK UP for Victims and their Families as these DRUG LORDS are DANGEROUS and KILLERS themselves,even have their own Armies, WORSE than the Government of the Phillipines  and have  entrenched themselves,their Networks of distributors, suppliers, distributors,runners,suppliers over Decades without ANY results.Therefore protect the ADDICTS,THEIR FAMILIES, and start from the bottom up to get to the TOP DOGS.Like it or not,this President  KNOWS what is going down and HE KNOWS it is now or never and the last straw. !

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