President Rody Duterte’s “controversial” campaign against illegal drugs in the Philippines will be the center of a panel discussion on Wednesday evening, August 31, 2016 at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT) in Bangkok.
Themed “Duterte and Philippine drug wars – Thaksin redux?” will be attended by panelists including former Filipino Congressman Walden Bello, BBC journalist Jonathan Head and other human rights advocates.
The panel discussion will start at 7:00 pm at the Penthouse, Maneeya Center Building in Pathumwan, Bangkok. A fee of 450 baht will be charged to non-members while 150 baht for Thai journalists and students with valid ID.
Below is the bulletin posted on FCCT website.
Duterte and Philippine drug wars – Thaksin redux?
A Panel Discussion
Since President Rodrigo Duterte came into office two months ago, ‘The Punisher’ has been delivering on his campaign promise to purge the Philippines of drug dealers and deliver law and order. The body bags have been piling up with over 700 dead in ‘shootouts’ with police and more than 1,000 blatantly killed by vigilantes. Predictably, the brutal campaign has been condemned by the United Nations, foreign governments, and human rights activists, and is already the subject of a senate inquiry in Manila. It nevertheless appears to enjoy support among a large number of Filipinos tired of rampant crime and rotten law enforcement. Duterte can also stand on his track record as mayor of Davao in the southern state of Mindanao, which is now considered the safest city in the Philippines.
Duterte’s deadly campaign is, of course, not without precedent in Southeast Asia. In early 2003, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra launched a similar programme that critics say was responsible for much arbitrary killing. The figures are contested, but by some accounts there were as many as 2,800 extrajudicial killings in the first three months, half of which may have been unrelated to drugs. Thousands were also forced into coercive treatment. In the Philippines today, addicts are hurriedly surrendering into overcrowded custody to avoid the gunmen.
Sunai Phasuk is a senior researcher on Thailand in Human Rights Watch’s Asia division with special expertise in political, security and foreign policy analysis in the context of human rights and democratization in Thailand and Burma. He regularly provides commentary to Thai government and international agencies, including the United Nations, the European Commission, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Jonathan Head, who just returned from covering the story in the Philippines, has been Southeast Asia Correspondent since 2012 for BBC News, the main newsgathering department of the BBC, and its 24-hour television news channels BBC World News and BBC News Channel. He has over 20 years’ experience as a reporter, programme editor and producer for the BBC.
Walden Bello is a distinguished Philippine columnist and academic. A former member of the house of representatives, he is professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines Diliman and executive director of Focus on the Global South.
Sam Zarifi is Asia Director for the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and previously worked with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. He has covered human rights crises and conflicts from Afghanistan to the Philippines, and was recently in Manila meeting with Philippine lawmakers involved in the current senate hearings on extrajudicial killings. The Philippines is signatory to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which Thailand was not under Thaksin.