Meanwhile in the Philippines, recently elected President Rodrigo Duterte, voted in on a "law and order platform" to apply the death penalty for drug pushers through , you know, illegal military death squads whenever possible, has responded to his first national terrorism crisis with the light, friendly version of outright martial law.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday declared a "state of lawlessness" in the country after 14 people were killed in a bomb blast at a night market in his home city.
Duterte's declaration came as the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group claimed responsibility for the late Friday attack that also injured 71 people, with the extremists warning of more attacks in the coming days.
The Philippine leader stressed that he had not declared martial law, but that the move would allow him to ask the military to conduct operations according to his instructions.
"These are extraordinary times," he told reporters during a visit before dawn at the site of the bomb attack in the southern city of Davao, where he used to be the mayor. "I can order soldiers to search premises."
Placing the country under a state of lawlessness empowers the president to call on the military to help the police in anti-crime operations.
In a statement, the office of the presidential spokesperson pointed out that the declaration has "limitations" as the president can only order the armed forces to quell violence.
Martial law can only be declared in certain situations, the statement continued. "Only if there is an invasion or a rebellion, and when public safety is at risk, can he (the president) suspend the writ of habeas corpus or declare martial law."
The statement called on Philippine citizens to be vigilant against "those who wish to create chaos."
Anyone want to take bets on how long before that declaration of martial law happens? He's been in office for less than three months and he's running the classic military strongman playbook to an absolute T.
Since Rodrigo Duterte assumed the presidency of the Philippines eight weeks ago, the same scene has unfolded night after night in the slum neighborhoods of Manila: A shot rings out, and a person lies dead on the street with a cardboard sign laid next to him, scrawled with a single word: “Pusher.”
This is how Duterte’s war on drugs is playing out on the ground. It is a punitive campaign spurred by the president’s promises of immunity and even bounties to those who take drug users and traffickers “dead or alive.”Last week, the national police chief testified during a Senate inquiry that more than 1,900 people suspected of being involved in the drug trade or abusing drugs had been shot dead by police or “vigilantes” (that number nowapproaches 2,500). Over 10,000 people have been arrested, and at least 675,000 people have voluntarily surrendered to the authorities.
The numbers are staggering, but what remains unclear is whether those killed and imprisoned are even involved in the drug trade. According to bereaved relatives, Duterte’s take-no-prisoners approach has claimed former addicts, spouses of suspected drug peddlers, and even a 5-year old child as casualties. “Mothers are approaching me every week as their sons are threatened or listed in police precincts,” said Jean Enriquez, a long-time feminist leader who belongs to a coalition of 50 Philippine human rights organizations. “Being listed could mean death.”
The soaring rise in extrajudicial killings has invited scrutiny and condemnation from both international and domestic human rights groups, as well as institutions like the Catholic Church. But Duterte shows no sign of slowing down. Only last Friday, he brushed off criticism from the United Nations in an address to the Philippine military: “What crime against humanity? I’d like to be frank with you, are [drug users] humans?”
And keep in mind this was all before this weekend's declaration of "lawlessness", suddenly making those extrajudicial military death squads of his very, very legal.
Manila has suddenly become a extremely big international problem in the last several weeks, and it's only going to get worse.