Philippines’ Drug War (2016 – )
The coffins sat on the side of the busy street, their open lids just inches from the jeepneys and motorcycle taxis sputtering past in the afternoon heat. Few people seemed to notice. A woman chopped chicken feet next to the coffins as children played nearby and stray dogs dozed underneath. In Tondo, one of Manila’s largest slums, Duterte’s drug war long ago became part of daily life.
But for the Montoya family, the grief was still searing. Less than two weeks earlier, brothers Ronnie and Jay-Ar had gone to change a car battery and never come home. After 48 hours, police claimed that the siblings had been slain during an anti-drug operation.
“What happened to them was so scripted,” said Joyce Carreon, Jay-Ar’s partner, as she attended the roadside wake. “What they did to them is total nonsense.”
Since the beginning of Duterte’s administration, human rights organizations have raised questions about suspicious police killings: drug users shot in the back or the head, as if executed; narcotics seemingly planted at crime scenes; the same guns supposedly found on different victims; police reports apparently copied and pasted, including the stock phrase “nanlaban,” or “they fought back.”
The government admits that authorities have killed more than 6,000 people in drug-related cases in the past six years. But human rights groups put the number between 20,000 and 30,000 when including attacks by masked gunmen. What is clear is that almost no one has been held accountable.
Excerpt from Burials, exhumations, outrage: A day in the endless Philippine drug war on The Washington Post. Text by Michael Miller and Regine Cabato.
Burials, exhumations, outrage: A day in the endless Philippine drug war
The Washington Post
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2016 – 2019