MANILA – Dozens of students put on Friday finishing touches to a mural, critical of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, on the wall of an art college on the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City, east of Manila.
It took the students five days to complete the mural called “Pulutan ng Dayuhan” (Food of Foreigners), and depicts Duterte with two horns, offering the Philippines on a platter to the United States and China.
The mural, some of the students told an epa journalist, was their way of criticizing Duterte’s foreign policy, including his handling of the South China Sea dispute, and the Philippines’ relations with China and the US.
It was also aimed at raising awareness of the human rights abuses committed in the president’s war on drugs that he launched immediately after he took office in July 2016.
Casualty estimates from Duterte’s drug war are contentious, with the Philippine government saying more than 4,000 “drug personalities” have died in anti-drug operations, while the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch says more than 12,000 have lost their lives, which includes killings by police and vigilante groups.
Philippines-US relations were strained following the latter’s criticism of Duterte’s drug war, which spurred the president to establish closer relations with China, although the two are locked in a maritime dispute in the South China Sea.
However, the US administration cautiously praised Duterte’s drug war last month, leading to speculation that there might be a turnaround in bilateral relations.