'Fighting fire with fire won't work'
MANILA – Billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday to stop his bloody war on drugs, which has claimed hundreds of lives and “spun out of control.”
The Virgin Group chairman and recent Manila visitor said Duterte’s vow to end the country’s drug problem in six months was “bound to fail” as global syndicates will find a way to subvert authorities, citing the examples of Latin America and the United States.
“Fighting fire with fire won’t work. The Philippines must reverse course immediately and choose evidence-based policies that put people first, reduce harm and put an end to these atrocities,” Branson said on his website.
As a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Branson said Duterte must “Immediately end the incitements to kill people suspected of using or dealing drugs.”
Duterte must also fulfill the country’s obligations under international human rights agreements and drop his plan to reinstate the death penalty.
According to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, 852 drug suspects have been killed since May 10, when Duterte’s election win became clear.
Of the total number, 525 were killed during police operations, 249 were gunned down by unidentified assailants, while 78 were found dead in apparent vigilante killings. This translates to 10 drug-related fatalities per day.
Citing “friends familiar with the situation on the ground,” Branson said watch lists of drug suspects “have fueled the ambitions of trigger-happy gunmen to do as they please.”
“And more people are being killed because the actual drug lords are fighting back and killing people who they think would be whistleblowers. It’s a situation that has spun completely out of control,” he said.
Branson said the number of suspects who surrendered, 114,000 was “staggering” and would worsen conditions in the country’s clogged prison system.