World

Undeterred by Duterte's war on drugs

Pedicab driver Reyjin dived into a neighbour's house for a quick methamphetamine fix, fearful of taking a bullet to the head in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal war on drugs, but unable to quit.

More than 2,000 people have died violent deaths since Mr Duterte took office two months ago and implemented his plans to eradicate drugs in the Philippines, ordering police to shoot dead traffickers and urging ordinary citizens to kill addicts.

The bloodbath has seen more than half the victims killed by unknown assailants, according to police statistics, raising fears that security forces and hired assassins are roaming through communities and shooting dead anyone suspected of being involved in drugs.

Armed police constantly circle in Mr Reyjin's Manila slum community, but he continues to snort the fumes of the highly-addictive drug, which Mr Duterte warned is destroying the lives of millions of poor Filipinos.

"It is scary because I could be next," said the gaunt 28-year-old, who spoke to AFP on the condition that his identity not be revealed.

The father of three said that two masked gunmen riding in tandem on a motorcycle shot dead a woman who had sold small amounts of drugs to him and other residents.

"She was sitting in the alley when she took two bullets to the head," he said.

Such riding-in-tandem murders are one of the most common forms of killings by the shadowy assassins.

Often, a piece of cardboard, with "drug peddler" or "drug addict" written on it, is placed on the corpse, leading the war on crime becoming known as "cardboard justice".

Meanwhile, police reported killing 756 people whom they branded drug suspects.

National police chief Ronald dela Rosa insisted that his officers kill only when their lives are in danger.

But two policemen were charged with murder over the jailhouse deaths of a father and son.

Autopsies showed that before being shot dead, they were beaten so badly that they suffered broken limbs.

CRITICS

The United Nations, the US government and human rights groups expressed alarm at the bloodshed and some have warned that the country is in the midst of a terror reign as authorities act with no regard for the law.

But Mr Duterte and Mr dela Rosasaid they are acting within the boundaries of the law, and they accused their critics of siding with the drug traffickers.

They say most of the unexplained deaths are being carried out by drug syndicates waging war on each other.

Mr Reyjin said he is aware of the toll his habit takes on his family. But, even with by the threat of his children being orphaned in the drug war, he said he cannot stop taking drugs.

"Sometime I tell myself I have to stop," he said.

"But my body craves it."

- AFP.

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