Filipino-Canadians divided over Duterte drug war in the Philippines

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  • A number of Filipinos in Canada have expressed opposing views over the ongoing campaign against

    drugs in the Philippines.

    Thousands have been killed in the war against drugs declared by President Rodrigo Duterte, and among

    Filipinos in Canada, opinion is divided.

    A December 10 CBC report quoted one prominent Filipino in Winnipeg saying he supports the Duterte’s

    approach.

    “I love it,” Rod Cantiveros said in an interview with CBC Radio’s Weekend Morning Show.

    Duterte won the Philippines’ presidency in May 2016 promising to wipe out drugs. He warned drug

    traffickers they risked death.

    “There are three million drug addicts [in the Philippines]. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte told

    reporters in a September speech.

    Since Duterte took office in June, more than 5,000 people have died in his anti-drug campaign, according

    to Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division.

    But Cantiveros, who came to Winnipeg in 1974 and started Winnipeg’s Filipino Journal newspaper, said

    international media are exaggerating Duterte’s actions.

    “The media, especially international media members, are not friends of Duterte because Duterte would

    like to remove the status quo,” Cantiveros said.

    While Cantiveros recognized the deaths — without charges or a trial — would not be acceptable in

    Canada, he said in the CBC report that “in the Philippines, it is a different story.”

    But not all Filipinos in Manitoba agree that Duterte’s tactics are the right direction, CBC also reported.

    Restaurateur Roddy Seradilla, who owns Pimp My Rice, said he is terrified watching reports from the

    Philippines.

    “It’s a very, very scary situation over there,” Seradilla said in the CBC report.

    As second-generation Filipino-Canadian, Seradilla said in the report that it’s easy for him to condemn

    Duterte’s brutal tactics. But he understands why some people support them, and acknowledges drug

    abuse and crime are serious issues.

    “Being a Filipino-Canadian, I am truly just an outsider looking in, and I’m used to the Canadian or the

    North American way of doing things with the judicial system,” he said in the report.

    In Toronto, Metro News reported on December 8 Filipinos worry about their families as Duterte

    continues the deadly war on drugs.

    Thousands of kilometres away from her hometown of Samar province, Sonia Pormarca Carreon of

    Scarborough has been finding it hard to sleep.

    “I have four sons in that country. And the police are shooting people every day,” Carreo, a live-in

    caregiver, said in the Metro News report. “Honestly, I am very worried about their lives. I know they

    have not done anything wrong but the situation is so scary.”

    The crackdown has drawn criticism from politicians, including outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama,

    and human rights defenders.

    Ernie Reyes, a Filipino-Canadian who’s lived in Toronto for the past 23 years, said it’s alarming to see the

    country’s descent into chaos.

    “I don’t like drugs. I hate drugs,” Reyes said in the Metro News report. “But there should be a better way

    to deal with those accused than just shoot people.”

    On December 9, Global News quoted Filipino-Canadians opposed to Duterte’s drug war.

    “To any person who values human life and values due process this is obviously reprehensible,” said Joe

    Zagala of Ontario in the Global News report. “What makes this really, really bad is … these killings are at

    least encouraged if not directed by the highest person in the land.”

    One poll, conducted in late September, found that 83 percent of Filipinos had “much trust” in Duterte,

    compared with 84 percent in June.

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