In Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, Suspects Have the ‘Right to Remain Silent—Forever’
A surge in killings of suspected criminals since the crime-buster was elected president offers a glimpse of what may lie aheadBy Trefor Moss, WSJ
June 30, 2016 1:51 a.m. ET
MANILA—Jimmy Vosotros was found dead along a highway on the Philippine island of Cebu last month, his hogtied body wrapped like a mummy in garbage bags and packing tape and a rope around his neck.
A message left at the scene invoked this country’s man of the moment: President Rodrigo Duterte. “I’m a bandit, Du30,” it said, using common shorthand for the man driving a law-and-order push.
The killing, and others recently, offers a glimpse of what may be to come in this fast-growing country, a crucial U.S. ally in Asia.
Mr. Duterte, the long-serving mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines, was sworn in as president on Thursday, having comfortably won elections in early May after pledging to wipe out criminals. He advocates the killing of suspected lawbreakers and has publicly backed vigilante death squads estimated to have killed over 1,000 people in Davao.
“Kill them all,” Mr. Duterte told a rally in March, referring to criminals and suspects. “When I become president I’ll order the police and the military to find these people and kill them.” During the campaign, Mr. Duterte said 100,000 Filipinos would die during the coming purge.