In a backflip worthy of the nation’s president, the incoming ambassador to the United Nations has condemned both the death penalty and the war on drugs. Step forward Teddy “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr.
A former television anchor and journalist, who has a reputation for being none too careful of what he shares on Twitter, Teddyboy was criticised globally for a tweet earlier this year that read: “I believe that the Drug Menace is so big it needs a FINAL SOLUTION like the Nazis adopted. That I believe. NO REHAB.”
I believe that the Drug Menace is so big it needs a FINAL SOLUTION like the Nazis adopted. That I believe. NO REHAB.
This understandably generated quite a bit of a stir, with CNN Philippines calling Teddyboy in for a friendly chat on the topic:
A month later Duterte echoed the statement, saying that the war on drugs needed its own version of the holocaust. Being quoted during an interview saying that, “if Germany had hitler, the Philippines would have me”:
Having apparently decided that he needs to tone down his hardline rhetoric, the appointed ambassador to the United Nations has now said that we need to end the killings:
End the killings. There are US methods of "disappearances" which are more tasteful and do not invite international notice. So much progress…
Additionally he has said that the death penalty bill must be withdrawn and that it is demeaning to the Philippine people:
First step, withdraw that barbarous bill reimposing death penalty because it doesn't work and it is messy. Death penalty demeans us.
All of this comes off the back of criticism being levelled at Duterte by senators De Lima and Poe for his statements that he plans the execution of 5-6 convicts a day once the bill is in place.
Earlier this month the chief of the UN Human Rights Council, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned the Philippine government that re-introduction of capital punishment in the country would be a breach of international law. This is as a result of the country ratifying a protocol against the execution of criminals in 2007.
Al Hussein went on to quote the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which the Philippines ratified in 1986. This document states “in those States which have not abolished the death penalty, the sentence of death can only be applied for the most serious crimes.” Duterte’s list of capital crimes is large and includes everything from drug possession to unlawful prescription along with the more commonly capital crimes of Murder and Rape:
- Qualified piracy
- Qualified bribery
- Kidnapping and serious illegal detention
- Robbery with violence against or intimidation of persons
- Destructive arson
- Importation of dangerous drugs and or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
- Sale, trading, administration, dispensation, delivery, distribution and transportation of dangerous drugs and or controlled precursors and essential chemicals
- Maintenance of drug den
- Manufacture of dangerous drugs and or controlled precursor and essential chemicals
- Possession of dangerous drugs
- Cultivation or culture of plants classified as dangerous drugs
- Unlawful prescription of dangerous drugs
- Criminal liability of public officer for misappropriation, misapplication or failure to account for the confiscated seized or surrendered drugs
- Criminal liability for planting evidence
The death penalty was originally abolished in the country in 1987, then re-introduced in 1993. It was then abolished again in 2006. In the intervening 13 years between 1993 and 2006 only seven people were executed. Duterte, if he gets his way would rather see about 2,000 prisoners executed a year.
— Andrew RC Marshall (@Journotopia) November 9, 2016
With prisons already bursting at the seams as a result of the mass arrests under Duterte’s bloody crusade against the drug trade, it’s clear that the leader wants to an extremely hard line stance against crime. However, one has to ask the question: When an overcrowded prison is a safer option that being at home with your family, what sort of a culture of fear is being fostered in the country?