300 dead in Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's national drug crackdown

By Marnie O’Neill of news.com.au

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES

Rodrigo "The Punisher" Duterte vowed to eliminate drug crime via state sanctioned murder and he's fulfilling that promise with chilling efficiency.

The official death toll since the Philippines president's call on authorities and citizens last month to kill drug users and dealers on sight is almost 300 but the true figure is certain to be higher.

The victims nobody reported missing, or cared enough about to identify, are unlikely to have made anyone's list.

Now the horrific results of Duterte's crackdown have been illustrated in an extraordinary series of photographs by Getty's Dondi Tawatao.

According to police data, 293 suspected users and pushers were killed during police operations between July 1 and July 24. Human rights groups say this figure does not include countless people murdered by vigilantes in street executions.

Forensic workers take out the body of an alleged drug dealer killed in a shootout with police during a drug raid. Photo / Getty Images
Forensic workers take out the body of an alleged drug dealer killed in a shootout with police during a drug raid. Photo / Getty Images

There have been many reports of accused drug users and pushers being executed and left on streets with cardboard signs allegedly "admitting" their guilt.

Not that this worries Duterte - as far as he is concerned everything is going to plan.

"Double your efforts. Triple them if need be," he said in a message to police.

"We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier and the last pusher have surrendered or been put behind bars ... or below ground if you wish."

An alleged drug dealer and victim of a summary execution with his head wrapped in tape is examined by police. Photo / Getty Images
An alleged drug dealer and victim of a summary execution with his head wrapped in tape is examined by police. Photo / Getty Images

During his presidential campaign, the 71-year-old vowed to kill more than 100,000 alleged criminals and dump their bodies in Manila Bay within six months of taking office (he was inaugurated on June 30).

Since Duterte's win, a wave of executions of alleged criminals, carried out both by vigilantes and the police, has swept the country.

Two women cry in grief after armed assailants in a motorcycle shot their loved one in a main thoroughfare. Photo / Getty Images
Two women cry in grief after armed assailants in a motorcycle shot their loved one in a main thoroughfare. Photo / Getty Images

In his national address last month, Mr Duterte told the crowd that the Philippines was drowning in drugs and urged police and civilians alike to take matters into their own hands by shooting suspects themselves.

He promised to pay huge bounties in exchange for every person killed who had connections to the drug trade. The higher the target's rank, the bigger the reward.

The pay scale looks something like this: Three million pesos (around $90,000) for every "drug lord", two million pesos ($60,000) for those in charge of distribution, one million pesos ($30,000) for "syndicate members" and 50,000 pesos ($1500) for every "ordinary" drug peddler killed.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Zeid al-Hussein, has appealed to Duterte to end the murderous crackdown.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Pabillo said there is no proof the victims were engaged in drug trafficking.

 People living in a shanty community look on at a crime scene. Photo / Getty Images
People living in a shanty community look on at a crime scene. Photo / Getty Images

"No one told us that, aside from the cardboards placed on top of them," he said.

"Can we correct evil by doing evil?"

An opinion poll taken late in June showed that 63 per cent of Filipinos believe that Duterte will make good on most, if not all, of his promises to stamp out criminality, corruption and illegal drugs.

- news.com.au

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