Denounce Duterte’s Death Squad Threats

Target: Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State

Goal: Denounce Philippine President Duterte’s proposed death squads.

Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, has threatened to send death squads to kill his own citizens. With the cold rhetoric punctuated by violent vulgarity that he has become known for, Duterte claimed he’s “floating the idea around” of hunting down communist sympathizers in his country. Human rights organizations claim this kind of rhetoric could precipitate a reign of terror. The main target is assumed to be the New People’s Army, a communist militia that has resisted the Philippine government since their formation in 1969. Although violence between the militia and government has been sparse, peace talks have recently broken down between the two parties.

Duterte claims his death squads would hunt down Maoist assassins, referred to as “Sparrows,” who were allegedly involved in a string of violent incidents in the 1970s. Historians and journalists debate whether or not the “sparrows” ever existed in the first place. Nevertheless, the Philippine President was quoted saying, “I am going to create my own sparrow – the Duterte Death Squad.”  Critics have pointed to Duterte’s “War on Drugs,” in which an estimated 20,000 Philippine citizens died in extrajudicial killings, as an example of the violence the Philippine government is capable of unleashing under the guise of law and order.

Please sign this petition to demand that the American government hold Rodrigo Duterte responsible for his murderous rhetoric.


Dear Mr. Pompeo,

The Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte is yet again threatening his citizens with a reign of terror. In a press conference, Duterte announced that he was considering assembling his own death squads. This coordinated, state- sponsored violence is nothing new for the Philippines. For the last two years, the Duterte administration has been carrying out and encouraging extrajudicial murder through the widely condemned “War on Drugs.” Even if Duterte is, as he says, just “floating the idea around” he is in much too high a position of power to demand the murder of his own citizens in passing.

Duterte claims these death squads would hunt down individuals connected to a string of assassination attempts in the 1970s, particularly by an organization called the “Sparrows.” Philippine historians and journalists claim this group might not even exist. Instead, Duterte’s reign of terror would mostly be against the dissident New People’s Army and people considered communist sympathizers. Duterte cannot be allowed to intimate that he would be in favor of a killing spree. The United States has been disturbingly quiet in the past about the atrocities committed in Duterte’s name. I demand that you denounce Duterte’s murderous rhetoric and withhold American support for a regime that toys with murdering its own citizens.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Lean Daval Jr.

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