Published December 8, 2016 7:07pm
By ROSE-AN JESSICA DIOQUINO, GMA News
STREET EXECUTION Police inspect the body of Michael Araja, 29, who, neighbors said, was killed by two men riding on a motorcycle in Pasay City on Oct. 2. President Duterte began a bloody and chaotic campaign against drugs when he took office in June. —PHOTOS BY DANIEL BEREHULAK/THENEWYORK TIMES
Many Filipinos say President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal antidrug campaign, which has killed thousands of people suspected of being dealers or addicts, is a welcome antidote to the fear they say has gripped the Philippines for decades.
About 4,000 readers in the Philippines responded on The New York Times website and on Facebook to the photographer Daniel Berehulak’s gruesome pictures of killings committed in the course of Mr. Duterte’s violent crackdown. The Inquirer published Berehulak’s story and some of his photos on Friday.
Some who responded said they were outraged over extrajudicial killings by the police and by the vigilante justice they inspired.
“The fear of drug lords is replaced by the fear of police,” Honey de Peralta wrote on Facebook.
But many more Filipinos applauded Mr. Duterte, and said the victims had deserved to be punished.
“Slaughter might be harsh but I guess for drug peddlers, they deserve it,” Daphnie A. Diamola said.
Their comments help explain why recent polls show more than 80 percent of Filipinos support the outspoken Mr. Duterte and his policy.
Here are excerpts from other comments, lightly edited. (The Facebook posts can be viewed only in the Philippines.)
Filipinos say the government must address the scourge of drugs and addiction.
We in the slums of Manila, who have been living in constant fear for the past 10-plus years because of the denial of the previous administration that we are becoming a narco state, feel safer. You do not have the right to tell that you don’t feel safe if you haven’t experienced violence from drug-infested areas!!!—Ann Mendoza via nytimes.com
Before, innocent people are dying every day because of these drug addicts, and pushers are earning billions of pesos and dollars. For us, better to kill these drug pushers and drug addicts than them killing the innocents.—Jah Rastafari via Facebook
Killings were made by drug lords and their runners and hit men. Police visibility was doubled or tripled and that is way better than the past six years of agony and pain created by Aquino administration and their narcosupporters.—Jhun Barrey Gelacio Laggui via Facebook
The dangers of unchecked drug violence in poor communities in the Philippines had grown unacceptable for many people.
I’m from the famous district of Tondo. So far so good. I feel safer nowadays. If only you had seen Tondo through my eyes when drug dealings are much of a common scene in our everyday lives. Not until Duterte came. The thugs who mock our laws are the ones who are more afraid these days.—Agapito Bagumbayan via Facebook
As far as I know, if you’re a law-abiding citizen, nothing happens to you. That’s how we are in Davao, which is the among the nation’s most peaceful cities despite being multiethnically diverse and being on Mindanao island, and where our President was once a mayor, and we are very proud of it.—John Paul II, Philippines via nytimes.com comments
Still others fear for their lives and worry the situation in the Philippines will get only worse.
The situation here, though, is not like in a war zone. It is worse. While you can still live out your day, go to work, eat outside, and go back home after the day is done, you have no idea when such an incident may happen to you or your loved ones. You do not know whether to trust the police or not. You try to ignore the fear, but it is there.—Jan Michael A. Rivera via nytimes.com
Friends of mine have had friends and relatives killed. Never have I seen such impunity from my government. Rodrigo Duterte has a razor-focused vendetta and it is misguided and cruel and uneducated and vile, and in its wake is the Filipino people’s sense of humanity.—Joseph Pascual via Facebook
Poor people linked to drugs are killed, while big-time drug lords/rich people linked to drugs get to flee the country or get the benefit of the doubt or due process.—Tina Quinalayo via Facebook
Contrary to what a lot of my fellowmen here say, no, we do not feel safer in the Philippines. Life is not better. The peso is depreciating much faster than other Asian currencies and the culture of impunity makes you wonder who’s next. The fear of drug lords is replaced by the fear of police.—Honey de Peralta via Facebook
Supporters of the policy applaud the apparent effectiveness of the ruthless police tactics.
I’m living in the Philippines, and yes one of my family got killed because of this campaign, but I still and the rest of my relatives support this campaign because since the administration changed, we feel safer compared to the past administration. And about his efforts, we, most of Filipinos, are very satisfied of his works.—Jhudie Rap Ram-jo via Facebook
Mr. Duterte’s campaign against drugs has resulted in fewer cases of crimes. The ordinary people are now more confident when they walk the streets at night knowing that there are less drug-crazed criminals who would prey on them.—Jose Jaravata via Facebook
The Philippines is a much safer place. Our President is a good President … compassionate. But he is also fair. If you break the law, you will be arrested; if you resist, you get hurt, or die. For the rest of us law-abiding citizens, we have absolutely nothing to worry about.—Leidi Mae Arenas via Facebook
I live in the Philippines and “slaughter” is, I think, a very inappropriate term. And to be blunt about it, the only effect it has for me as a law-abiding citizen is that we are no longer scared of criminals/drug addicts; we are no longer scared to go out on a wee hour for a midnight snack; we can go out to streets without fear of being held up. Most importantly, we trust that the huge taxes we pay the government do not go directly to their pockets, which in fact had been the norm for some government officials years back.—Nicole Nepomuceno via Facebook
Jimji, 6, cries out in anguish, saying “Papa” as workers move the body of her father, Jimboy Bolasa, 25, for burial, in Manila, Philippines, Oct. 9, 2016. Bolasa was found murdered along with his neighbor. A bloody and chaotic campaign against drugs that President Rodrigo Duterte began when he took office on June 30 has seen about 2,000 people slain at the hands of the police alone. (Daniel Berehulak/The New York Times)
We can now sleep peacefully and walk at night knowing that our President is serious in his war on drugs. We never had a President like him! He is true to his words, truly cares for his fellow men and a true leader! As a Filipino, he is the best President a country could ever have! Slaughter might be harsh but I guess for drug peddlers, they deserve it.—Daphnie A. Diamola via Facebook
I feel safe for my family because hundreds of thousands of drug users have surrendered and are currently undergoing rehabilitation, dramatically decreasing crime rates. Also, it’s not just about crime and the general public’s safety. People are more responsible now; in the small things such as following traffic rules and even cleaning up our communities and surroundings, the people themselves are making the change they need.—Miguel Pocholo Siatan via Facebook
Filipinos largely offered praise for their President.
Mr. Duterte is doing great actually. He is the best President of the country. He is trying to clean the entire Philippines from drugs, criminality and corruption. He wants to preserve the youth of the land from dangers and harm. From oppressors.—Matt Euzen A. Buena III via Facebook
I fully support the President of the Philippines. It’s ridiculous to even think these criminals are afforded protection. Human rights groups just need to get their noses out of our business!—Micehelle Golajer via Facebook
So far, so good. Less innocent victims … less rape … less corruption … less drugs and addicts … . Finally, the Philippines is going to the right direction. Thumbs up to the Duterte administration.—Francheska Adrienne Buenaventura via Facebook
A lowly mayor who became President who walks his talk and fulfilling his campaign promises, that’s not a politician, but a leader.—Rockford Villegas Maunes via Facebook
Mr. Rodrigo Duterte is not a perfect President, but he is the President we need for our times, and if anybody tries to remove him from his post, they will have to face the Filipino people, so quit the negative publicity. You’ve never, not once, reported on the amazing things this man has done for the least of the Filipino people.—Krizette Laureta Chu via Facebook. —NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE