August 26th, 2016
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte’s War on Drugs has killed over 1,800 people in the two months he has been in power. His reign of terror has seen police-supported death squads conduct summary executions of suspected drug dealers and users.
An extraordinary BBC article profiles a woman in the Philippines who is paid to kill what she claims are drug dealers. “Maria” tells the BBC that she has so far killed six people, and that her orders come from “our boss the police officer.” Her story adds weight to the idea that Duterte’s drug war is being used by thugs and corrupt police officers to settle scores:
“…my husband was ordered to kill people who had not paid what they owed… one time they needed a woman… my husband tapped me to do the job. When I saw the man I was supposed to kill I got near him and I shot him.”
According to Maria, the police officer claimed the target was a drug dealer—an easy claim to make when someone owes you money.
Maria and her husband live in a poor neighborhood of Manila and make up to $430 per contract—a lot of money for Filipinos who live in poverty. She claims that she wants to stop being an assassin but that the police officer she works for has threatened to kill anyone who quits.
Such atrocities have raised alarms internationally. Duterte has been criticized by the US, the UN (he then threatened to form his own UN) and by the Catholic church. He has promised to kill “100,000 criminals.”
Yet he remains popular among a significant section of the Philippines population that has had enough of the crime that they associate with drugs—especially a potent form of methamphetamine known locally as “Shabu.”