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Trump’s Man in Manila


Since Trump is obsequious to every tin pot strongman around the world, I can’t wait to see how he kisses the ring of Rodrigo Duterte. After all, Duterte’s murderous regime is perfect for Emperor Cheeto. Here’s a good bit about the victims of his supposed war on drugs.

Duterte’s strategy of “instilling fear” has disproportionately impacted impoverished Filipinos, explains Father Billena.

“The victims who are the drug dependents are now the victims of these killings. They are the sacrificial lamb of this war on drugs,” says Billena.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) deny extrajudicial killings, chalking the deaths up to self-defense. Their official goal is to get drug users to surrender which would allow them to avoid jail and prosecution. More than one million drug users have turned themselves in, says the PNP. They encourage self-identification with house-to-house operations that were once led by the PNP and are now led by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. The government promises treatment services for those who turn themselves in — but that does not always happen.

Jarabelo surrendered as a drug user, but he didn’t surrender to the government; he surrendered to the church, two months before Duterte became president. Since then he has become an advocate, helping those who have lost family members to the drug war.

“I confess to them that I am a drug user, to the community and the church. And now they accepted,” Jarabelo says.

Jarabelo finds solace in the fact that he did not turn himself into the Duterte government. That would have given them a “lead,” he says. Middle-of-the-night murders often follow after Filipino drug users turn themselves in. That was the case for Elizabeth Navarno’s husband. The pedicab driver was killed by a hitman just months after he admitted to being a drug user. The masked gunman came to their door one night, while he was fixing their TV, and fired off shots that also killed their five-year-old son.

“I first heard shots fired, there were two shots and the first thing that I saw was my son falling and then my husband falling,” says Navarno. As she speaks, she shows no emotion. The murder happened 10 months ago.


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