Mong Palatino

Blogging about the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific since 2004


@mongster is a Manila-based activist, former Philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of Asia-Pacific affairs.

Published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer

The specter of unabated killings is the brutal legacy of the Duterte administration.

President Duterte waged a bloody war on drugs that led to thousands of killings. Most of the victims are suspected petty drug users, peddlers, and barangay bystanders. The police went on a deadly “tokhang” rampage but failed to end the drug menace.

Mr. Duterte relentlessly attacked activists, leftists, opposition leaders, and critics. Many of them became victims of extrajudicial killings. These include lawyers, environmentalists, indigenous peoples, farmers, reporters, local officials, peace consultants, and human rights defenders.

We believe these are state-sponsored killings that Mr. Duterte enabled through official and unofficial policies and declarations. From “tokhang” directives to martial law in Mindanao and the imposition of a state of lawlessness in Negros and Samar islands, the Duterte administration weaponized the bureaucracy, which led to fatal consequences. It has to be made accountable for legitimizing the attacks against urban poor residents, activists, and rural communities.

Mr. Duterte’s anticommunist rhetoric demonized the work of activists. He criminalized activism by linking the advocacies of people’s organizations with armed struggle. Suspected communist sympathizers are harassed, red-tagged, charged with trumped-up cases, and targeted by death squads.

In 2020, Mr. Duterte’s bungled COVID-19 response led to several unnecessary deaths. His criminal neglect has worsened the suffering of the people. His militarist and harsh lockdown restrictions have curtailed the rights of workers. Official COVID-19 monitoring does not count the number of people who died because of lockdown impositions, the overkill deployment of troops in communities, and those who were deprived of hospital health care.

We remember the victims of “tokhang.” We honor the lives of activists who were killed for bringing light to this world. We mourn those who died this year because of government incompetence and repression. The struggle continues until we achieve justice.

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