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A Reprint: The Philippines, where bodies pile up, but no one talks

Local children peer into cordoned area following a police operation against illegal drugs in Manila, Philippines EPA]

As fear and silence grips the general population, authorities in the Philippines strain to handle the rise in killings.

The body of 22-year-old pedicab driver Eric Sison lies in a coffin in a Manila slum with a chick pacing across his coffin, placed there in keeping with a local tradition to symbolically peck at the conscience of his killers.

Mobile phone video footage circulating on social media purports to capture the moment Sison was killed last month when, according to local officials, police were looking for drug pushers in the Pasay township of the Philippines' capital.

A voice on the video, recorded by a neighbour according to newspaper reports, can be heard shouting "Don't do it, I'll surrender!". Then there is the sound of gunfire.


A poster near the coffin demands "Justice for Eric Quintinita Sison". A hand-painted sign reads: "Overkill - Justice 4 Eric."

These are rare tokens of protest against a surge of killings unleashed since Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines just over two months ago and pledged to wage war on drug dealers and crush widespread addiction to methamphetamine.

Very little stands in the way of his bloody juggernaut.

Last week the number of people killed since July 1 reached 2,400: about 900 died in police operations, and the rest are "deaths under investigation", a term human rights activists say is a euphemism for vigilante and extrajudicial killings.

Indeed, Duterte may intensify the crackdown after 14 people were killed on Friday in a bomb attack at a market in his hometown, Davao. Police blamed the Abu Sayyaf, an ISIL-linked group Duterte has vowed to destroy, but his war on the drug trade is making enemies elsewhere and the attack quickened rumours of a plot to kill him.

Duterte's office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on this report.

Police overload, public fear

Interviews reveal that the police's Internal Affairs Service (IAS) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) are so overwhelmed by the killings that they can investigate only a fraction, and there is scant hope of establishing many as unlawful because witnesses are too terrified to come forward.

(Al Jazeerah)

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