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PH drug problem ‘exaggerated’, a ‘myth’: Human Rights Watch accuses Duterte of creating a ‘false crisis’

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The Human Rights Watch has called President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal drug war “an organized, government-sanctioned campaign of executions of drug suspects” built on a “myth” or inflated to fit his presidential campaign message and fill his bloodlust.

Human Rights Watch’s emergencies director, Peter Bouckaert‎ said there was no evidence to support Duterte’s claim that the Philippines has turned into a narco-state or “in the grip of a severe drug crisis, but the evidence doesn’t support that.”

Bouckaert said that the Filipinos’ consumption of shabu was not bigger than the consumption of meth in the United States.

“But Duterte has created this myth of a country descending into a lethal drug crisis and has advocated mass extrajudicial violence against ‘drug lords’ as the only solution to this false crisis. Yet the vast majority of those killed are very poor urban slum dwellers,” said Bouckaert‎.

“His ‘tough on crime’ image dates back to his two decades as mayor of Davao City in Mindanao, when he was a cheerleader for killing petty criminals, small-time drug dealers, and street children by the ‘Davao Death Squad.’ Our research then linked the death squad to local government officials and the police,” he added.

Bouckaert said Duterte’s drug myth was no different from his fabrication that he came from a poor family.

“Duterte’s populist base applauds the mass killings as reducing crime. He tries to scare people about drug problems and then portrays himself as the only solution. Like many populists, he’s built this myth around himself as a champion of the poor, but actually he comes from a very powerful political dynasty,” said Bouckaert who noted that most of the 7,000 killed in his drug war voted him to power.