Drug ‘personalities’ die in Philippines’ Big Time show
Drug ‘personalities’ die in Philippines’ Big Time show
The corpse is hauled out of one of Manila’s sprawling shantytowns, where so many people have been killed in Duterte’s drug war, and taken to a funeral parlour where other bullet-riddled bodies are lying on bare tables or a bloodied concrete floor.
Each of the dead men has a number in Roman numerals drawn in black pen above their bare feet to help the morticians keep track of the bodies that churn through each night. One of them is marked VI.
The scene on Friday morning offered a haunting vision realized for Duterte, whose campaign stump speech last year included advice to voters to set up funeral parlours because they would be guaranteed money-spinners when he was president.
“The funeral parlours will be packed... I’ll supply the dead bodies,” Duterte said at one rally in the northern Philippines, which attracted typical cheers from Filipinos fed up with crime and attracted by his man-of-the-people charisma.
Duterte easily won the election largely because of his law-and-order platform, which included a vow to eradicate all drugs in society within six months by waging an unprecedented crackdown in which tens of thousands of people would die.
During the 14 months Duterte has been in power, police have indeed confirmed killing more than 3,500 people officially termed “drug personalities.”
Unknown assailants have killed at least 2,000 others in drug-related crimes, according to police data, with rights groups attributing those and other unsolved murders to vigilante death squads or off-the-books police killings.
Until recently Duterte had been defiant in the face of criticism that, not only could his extraordinary campaign amount to a crime against humanity, it was bound to fail.
Duterte, 72, continues to insist his tactics are right — while balancing comments such as he would be “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts with indignant denials that he had ever incited police to act outside the law.
But over the past week Duterte has begun inserting into his near-daily speeches on the drug war that he is unlikely to achieve his goals by the time he has to stand down as president in 2022.
Duterte has partly blamed a corrupt police force for not being able to complete its mission.
By coincidence or not, police in Manila and surrounding provinces this week launched fresh offensives which led to some of the deadliest days of the drug war.
Continuing a theme of creating jargon that appears to trivialize the killings, police named their raids “One Time Big Time” campaigns.
The name echoed a defunct television show that had been popular with the tens of millions of poor Filipinos. It had a segment called “One Time Big Time” in which lucky contestants could win huge amounts of cash.
In the first major One Time Big Time operation this week, police in Bulacan province neighboring Manila reported killing 32 people on Monday night.
While human rights activists and other critics voiced outrage, Duterte quickly praised the police involved and urged more of the same.
“If we could kill another 32 everyday, then maybe we can reduce what ails this country,” Duterte said on Wednesday.
Police reported killing another 25 people that evening, then overnight Thursday and into the early hours of Friday an AFP team witnessed nine other bullet-riddled corpses in funeral parlours, inside slums or on nearby roads.
On one isolated road, a young man without shoes lay with bullet wounds to his head and stomach as a few policemen stood guard before crime scene investigators arrived. A pistol lay just near one of his hands.
One of the policemen said the dead man was a known drug trafficker and they were forced to shoot him in self defense.
Like in the vast majority of the “drug personality” killings, there were no reports of police being wounded or injured.
The investigators stayed for less than 30 minutes before the body was taken away and a police vehicle drove over the scene.
Even if the investigators did find the police account not to be true, Duterte has repeatedly promised to pardon officers if they are found guilty of murder in prosecuting his drug war.
Malaysia detains Najib ex-aide in first arrest over 1MDB scandal
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian authorities have made the first arrest in a renewed probe into the multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB, remanding a former aide of ousted prime minister Najib Razak to assist in investigations, Bernama news reported on Monday.
Malaysia’s new government led by the 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad reopened investigations into billions of dollars allegedly siphoned out of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) after Najib’s administration lost a general election in May, fueled by anger over the scandal and rising living costs.
On Monday, a magistrate’s court granted an application by anti-graft officials to remand Najib’s former aide for a week to assist in their investigations into 1MDB, according to a report by national newswire Bernama.
The 42-year-old aide, described in the report as having worked for Najib since 2009, was arrested on Sunday night after giving a statement at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) headquarters in the administrative capital of Putrajaya.
Earlier this month, Malaysia’s new attorney general said his office was studying possible criminal and civil action in the 1MDB case, after receiving investigation papers on the state fund from the anti-graft agency.
Former prime minister Najib, who founded 1MDB, is the subject of a money laundering probe. Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing.
Najib, in some of his most extensive comments yet on the 1MDB scandal, told Reuters last week that he did not know if hundreds of millions of dollars that moved through his personal account was from 1MDB, and if money from the fund was eventually laundered to acquire assets globally, including yachts, paintings, gems and prime real estate.
Transactions involving 1MDB are being investigated in half a dozen countries, including the United States, where it has become the biggest case pursued by the Department of Justice under its anti-kleptocracy program.
The US Department of Justice has alleged in lawsuits that more than $4.5 billion from 1MDB was laundered through a complex web of transactions and shell companies, of which $681 million ended in Najib’s bank account. Najib says the money in his account was donations from Saudi Arabia, most of which he returned.
According to the US justice department, assets purchased using 1MDB money include a Picasso painting, luxury real estate in South California and New York, shares in a Hollywood production company and a $265 million yacht, and more than $200 million worth of jewelry — including a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace.