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Philippines: Military Camps for Drug Users?

Bill Weinberg

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In his increasingly draconian anti-drug crackdown, the new Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, actually sent National Police troops to arrest a local mayor—resulting in a shoot-out that left six of the mayor’s bodyguards dead.

On Aug. 1, Duterte ordered Mayor Rolando Espinosa of Albuera town on Leyte to island to surrender within 24 hours—and added: “Otherwise, an order of ‘shoot on sight’ will be given if they resist and endanger the lives of arresting police officers.” Espinosa surrendered to police the next day—but his son, wanted as a suspected drug-dealer, remained at large. The day after that, the gun-fight broke out between the body-guards and police who were on patrol near Espinosa’s house. Police of course said the body-guards fired first. The affair began July 28, when five other of Espinosa’s bodyguards and staff were busted in a sting operation for a street sale of shabu (methamphetamine).

The six slain at Albuera are among hundreds left dead by the extensive crackdown in just the month and change that Duterte has been in office. And it looks like things are set to get worse. In a speech July 29, Duterte said that the movements of “drug abusers” would have to be restricted, and called for  military camps to be opened as “rehabilitation centers” where they will be interned.

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