There are at least three ways to die in the Philippines’ war on drugs, says the Financial Times. The first is the botched police operation: resisting arrest, the suspect is gunned down by officers. Second, the vigilante killings: a masked duo, typically riding tandem on a motorcycle, pull up alongside the target for a point blank assassination. The killers are gone as quickly as they arrive. And then there are the mysteries — the bodies dumped down dark alleys, hog-tied, wrapped in plastic packaging and bearing a cardboard calling card: “I am a drug pusher.”
In this war, death comes fast and it comes frequently. Since new President Rodrigo Duterte launched the crackdown two months ago, about 2,000 suspected drug users and pushers have been killed — and the toll climbs every night. Duterte christened his presidency by promising a six-month campaign that would kill 100,000 drug users. So many bodies would be dumped in Manila bay that the “fish will grow fat”, he said. Two months on, the majority of the victims — typically poverty-stricken meth addicts or low-level peddlers — die at the hands of the vigilante killers, who have exploited the president’s campaign to settle scores and silence snitches. According to the latest police figures on Thursday, 1,051 have died at the hands of such death squads. The remaining 929 were killed in police operations, supposedly after resisting arrest. One local politician calls it a “state-inspired” policy.