In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte called for lawmakers to bring back the death penalty for drug offenders during his State of the Union address Monday. Earlier this month, the U.N. voted to investigate abuses committed by Duterte’s forces in his war on drugs, which human rights groups say has claimed tens of thousands of lives. Butch Olano of Amnesty International said, “Extrajudicial killings remain rife in the Philippines. Talk of bringing back the death penalty for drug-related crimes is abhorrent, and risks aggravating the current climate of impunity.”
Tens of thousands took to the streets to protest against Duterte during his address. Protesters also objected to Duterte’s refusal to confront China over its sinking of a Filipino fishing boat last month and territorial disputes in the South China Sea. This is a member of the opposition movement New Patriotic Alliance.
Renato Reyes: “The people are quite fed up now with the excuses, with the killings, with the repeated subservience to China. And they just want those incidents and cases to stop. If not, then Duterte has really no business remaining as president, if he can’t defend the constitution, uphold the constitution and defend our sovereign rights.”
In more news from the Philippines, the libel trial for Maria Ressa, the award-winning editor and founder of independent news site Rappler, opened today. Ressa has been a vocal critic of President Duterte and his drug war, and has been systematically targeted for her reporting. Click here to see our interviews with Maria Ressa.