Duterte took office on June 30, having campaigned on a law-and-order platform that publicly called for the large-scale, extra-judicial killing of supposed criminals.
Since his election in early May, Duterte has received the enthusiastic support of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its front organizations. Duterte has now appointed four CPP selected candidates from its front organizations to cabinet positions in his government. The most recent appointee, Liza Maza, will head the National Anti-Poverty Center (NAPC).
On the evening of June 30, after Duterte’s inaugural address and first cabinet meeting, the CPP’s front organizations, at Duterte’s request, arranged a dinner which he attended in the working class and urban poor community of Tondo. A crowd of 500 community members were gathered.
In his speech at the event, Duterte stated to applause that he was a “leftist” and was glad to be working with the Communist Party. He concluded his speech by denouncing drug pushers, “These sons of whores are destroying our children.” He told his audience, “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself.”
The next morning Duterte addressed the Philippine National Police (PNP) in their headquarters in Camp Crame, during the ceremony installing Director General Ronald de la Rosa as PNP head. He told the police that if “you kill one thousand persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect you.” He instructed the police to “shoot-to-kill” anyone deemed to “resisting arrest.”
The same day the police killed 12 alleged criminals, and vigilantes killed an additional two. Another 12 were killed the following day, seven by police, five by vigilantes. On July 3, 19 were reported killed.
By July 7, 72 two people had been killed in the bloody crackdown—43 by the police and 29 by vigilantes.
The details of many of the deaths are sketchy, but the overwhelming majority were executed in generally impoverished communities such as Quiapo, Muntinglupa, Baclaran and Tondo.
Those killed by vigilantes often had their corpses mutilated. Their bodies have been found hogtied and their eyes blindfolded, shot in the back of the head. Signs were left on the bodies saying “I’m a pusher, don’t imitate me.”
The police killings are likewise often being carried out execution style, with almost no effort being made to depict the victims as having “resisted arrest.” On July 6, for example, two brothers were killed by the police while in custody and handcuffed.
Duterte meanwhile is pursuing other components of his fascistic agenda. He controls a super-majority in both houses of the legislature and has called for measures to reinstate the death penalty and to lower the minimum age of criminal accountability.
Incoming Speaker of the House Pantaleon Alvarez has responded by drafting House Bill no. 1, which re-introduces the death penalty. The only significant debate that the bill currently faces in the legislature is whether the death penalty should be carried out by lethal injection or by hanging. Duterte has strongly called for the latter method of punishment, describing public hanging as “not a deterrent but retribution.” Incoming Senator Manny Pacquiao has introduced a bill in the Senate which would make death by hanging possible.
Alvarez has introduced a second bill that lowers the minimum age of criminal accountability from 15 to nine years old. If the bill—which Duterte supports—passes, second graders will be tried as adults, and could possibly face death by hanging for drug related offenses.