Philippine National Police units implicated in killings of hundreds of suspected drug users and drug dealers have a surprise benefactor: the United States government.
US government-funded counter-narcotics training continues despite the Philippine police’s role in President Rodrigo Duterte’s abusive “war on drugs,” which has resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 Filipinos since July 1.
A Buzzfeed investigation revealed that “officers at police stations receiving support from the US have played a central role in Duterte’s bloody campaign…it is clear that many of the stations – especially those in the capital city of Manila – are collectively responsible for hundreds of deaths.”
Police statistics indicate that police have killed 1,959 “drug personalities” between July 1 and November 25. Police have attributed those killings to suspects who “resisted arrest and shot at police officers,” but have not provided further evidence that police acted in self-defense. The Philippine National Police say an additional 3,658 alleged drug users and drug dealers have been killed by “unidentified gunmen” between July 1 and November 23.
The ongoing US-funded training for Philippine police contrasts with the US State Department decision earlier this month to suspend the sale of 26,000 military assault rifles to the Philippine National Police due to opposition to the sale from Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Cardin castigated the abuses linked to Duterte’s anti-drug campaign as “systematic, wide-spread, brutal, and beyond the bounds for a constitutional democracy.”
The US – along with other foreign governments that provide funding and training assistance to the Philippine National Police, including the European Union – should signal its concern about Duterte’s “war on drugs” by immediately suspending assistance, including training, to the Philippine police. The US should also publicly disclose information on Philippine police recipients of that assistance to determine if there have been any violations of the Leahy Law on Human Rights, which bars security force units implicated in human rights abuses from receiving US government-supplied training or equipment.
Training police who are murderers just makes them better murderers.