Newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte held a press conference Sunday to announce that, despite international criticism of his “shoot-to-kill” policy on drug dealers, he plans on continuing his enforcement methods.
“Why will I give you a [due] process? I am the president. I don’t give you [due] process,” the President said. “I will retire with the reputation of Idi Amin,” referring to the African ruler whose regime from 1971-1979 was known for large-scale rights abuses that killed thousands of Ugandans.
Part of the effort by Duterte to double-down his strict enforcement of drug laws is to build an electronic billboard outside the police headquarters in Manila that will keep a live tally on the number of drug suspects who have been arrested – or “neutralized” – during his administration.
The billboard will “give everyday people … the accomplishments of their police,” community relations chief Senior Superintendent Gilberto Cruz told AFP.
What prompted this announcement was the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) adding their voice to the slew international organizations criticizing Duterte.
The group reminded the President that the Philippines had passed laws and signed international agreements binding it to work against police abuse, extra-judicial killings and the death penalty which Duterte hopes to restore to the country.
As normalization and legalization pick up speed in the United States, eastern Asia countries continue to enforce strict, unwavering laws on marijuana and drug abuse. Just last month, a man in Thailand committed suicide in the courtroom after hearing his sentence for marijuana possession. All the while, tobacco remains uninhibited to advertise freely and sell to children.
This is an important reminder that the fight for legalization is not solely a domestic issue, it’s an international one.