101 East

Duterte’s New War

In the Philippines, the president’s latest war is claiming the lives of farmers, activists and political opponents.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “war on drugs” has been blamed for thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings.

Now, the president is waging another bloody war – this time against a communist rebellion.

In November last year, Duterte declared a state of emergency on the island of Negros, ordering military and police reinforcements to launch operations against the New People’s Army.

But many allege the victims have not just been rebel fighters.

Rights organisations say they have documented more than 80 alleged extrajudicial killings of farm workers, human rights advocates and lawyers on Negros since Duterte came to power in 2016.

Ben Ramos, a human rights lawyer who represented poor farmers, was shot late one night in November last year.

His wife, Yesha Ramos, blames the Duterte government for his death.

“I feel so mad, I feel so sad, I feel just really angry,” she tells 101 East. “It was the state forces. Taking the life of a person who is very innocent, who has been very supportive of farmers, is not an answer.”

Major General Parlade, the spokesman for the president’s new national task force to end the communist armed conflict, pledged to help the national police investigate his killing.

But when pressed about other cases where families insist innocent people were killed, Parlade maintains those who are killed must have fought back.

“There will be no killing if there is no armed resistance,” he says.

As the death toll rises, 101 East investigates Duterte’s new war.

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