Philippines’ New President Endorses Murdering Corrupt Journalists

If the US media delights in its every day interactions with Donald Trump, who not only refuses to follow the conventional playbook, but has torn it apart and burned it for good measure, it would have an absolute field day with the Philippine president-elect Rodrigo Duterte.

The reason is that earlier today, Duterte who takes over the local presidency on June 30, said that corrupt journalists were legitimate targets of assassination and should be killed, as he amped up his controversial anti-crime crusade with offers of rewards for killing drug traffickers.

As AFP reminds us, Duterte won this month’s elections by a landslide largely due to an explosive law-and-order platform in which he pledged to end crime within six months by killing tens of thousands of suspected criminals.

It’s not just corrupt journalists that are the target of Duterte’s wrath: the “foul-mouthed politician” has launched a series of post-election tirades against criminals and repeated his vows to kill them – particularly drug traffickers, rapists and murderers.

In a press conference called on Tuesday to announce his cabinet in his southern hometown of Davao, Duterte said journalists who took bribes or engaged in other corrupt activities also deserved to die.

Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch,” Duterte said when asked how he would address the problem of media killings in the Philippines after a reporter was shot dead in Manila last week.

Something tells us Trump would empathize; although there are mitigating factors. As AFP notes, the Philippines is one of the most dangerous nations in the world for journalists, with 174 murdered since a chaotic and corruption-plagued democracy replaced the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos three decades ago.

On the other hand, Duterte’s blunt solution has an eerie sense of vigilante justice: “Most of those killed, to be frank, have done something. You won’t be killed if you don’t do anything wrong,” Duterte said, adding that many journalists in the Philippines were corrupt.

Duterte also said freedom of expression provisions in the constitution did not necessarily protect a person from violent repercussions for defamation. “That can’t be just freedom of speech. The constitution can no longer help you if you disrespect a person,” he said.

Duterte raised the case of Jun Pala, a journalist and politician who was murdered in Davao in 2003. Gunmen on a motorcycle shot dead Pala, who was a vocal critic of Duterte. His murder has never been solved.

“If you are an upright journalist, nothing will happen to you,” said Duterte, who has ruled Davao as mayor for most of the past two decades and is accused of links to vigilante death squads.  “The example here is Pala. I do not want to diminish his memory but he was a rotten son of a bitch. He deserved it.

* * *

What jumps out here is the question of just what the president-elect believes makes a journalist “non-upright”: considering the country’s history with journalistic violence and murders and regressive retaliation, one would assume that something as innocent as writing an investigative piece exposing the corruption of the existing government, or perhaps even the president, would be sufficient grounds for putting said journalist on the “assassinate” list.

One of the world’s deadliest attacks against journalists took place in the Philippines in 2009, when 32 journalists were among 58 people killed by a warlord clan intent on stopping a rival’s election challenge. More than 100 people are on trial for the massacre, including many members of the Ampatuan family accused of orchestrating it.

Duterte has named Salvador Panelo, the former defense lawyer for the Ampatuans, as his presidential spokesman, a nomination criticized by the victims’ families and journalists’ organizations.

The president-elect also hopes to crack down in dramatic fashion on country’s big drug problem.

Duterte, who will assume office in one month, also said he would offer bounties to law enforcement officers who killed drug traffickers. He said three million pesos ($21,000) would be paid to law enforcers for killing drug lords, with lesser amounts for lower-ranking people in drug syndicates.

Outlining some of his other plans for his war on crime, Duterte said he would give police special forces shoot-to-kill orders and send them into the main jail in Manila where prisoners run drug trafficking operations.

So… a country full of Judge Dredds who have virtually unchecked power over whom to kill. Surely, what can go wrong.

Finally, Duterte would also root out corruption in the police by largely the same means: he would enlist junior soldiers to kill corrupt top-ranking police officers who were involved in the drug trade.

“I will call the private from the army and say: ‘Shoot him’,” Duterte said.

Finally, in a line that would lead to unprecedented media ratings if it was uttered by Trump, Duterte also urged police not to wait until he assumed the presidency, and start killing criminals immediately. “Now, now,” he urged them.

Police earlier confirmed killing 15 people in a series of drug raids across the country over the past week, which Amnesty International described as a sharp and sudden escalation in the long-standing problem of questionable deaths by Filipino security forces.

* * *

Finally, there was this:

The first ever, self-administered powersharing arrangement with the army in modern history?

To be sure, the new Philippino approach to fixing a crime-ridden society will be different from anything tried before (and perhaps after). It may even work. if so, we wonder how many other somewhat “radical” leaders will adopt Duterte’s approach of enabled vigilantism, whose outcome will be very binary: either the complete eradication of crime, which we find unlikely, or total social de-evolution and rampant, and even more violent crime.

via Tyler Durden

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.