Apple urged to remove apps that promote violent drug war


Posted at Oct 12 2017 10:42 PM

App Store applications related to the Duterte administration's campaign against illegal drugs. Photo courtesy of the Asian Network of People who Use Drugs

MANILA - Hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from different countries are urging Apple Inc. to remove mobile applications that promote the Duterte administration's drug war.

In an open letter released by the Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD), the NGOs called on Apple CEO Tim Cook to remove games related to the drug war and issue an apology for "hosting such insensitive content."

"These games valorize and normalize the emerging tyranny of Duterte's presidency and his government's disregard for human rights principles," the petition said.

"In virtual reality these games may seem harmless and fun, but when they are placed within the context of existing realities, of real murders of people and the impunity of law enforcement, then these games become offensive and distasteful," it continued.

Some of the games available in the App Store are entitled: Duterte Knows Kung Fu: Pinoy Crime Fighter, Duterte Running Man Challenge, Tsip Bato, Ang Bumangga Giba!, Duterte vs Zombies, and Fighting Crime 2.

The groups said these mobile applications "clearly violate" the following App Store Review Guidelines:

  • Defamatory, discriminatory, or mean-spirited content, including references or commentary about religion, race, sexual orientation, gender, national/ethnic origin, or other targeted groups. Professional political satirists and humorists are generally exempt from this requirement.
  • Realistic portrayals of people or animals being killed, maimed, tortured, or abused, or content that encourages violence. “Enemies” within the context of a game cannot solely target a specific race, culture, real government, corporation, or any other real entity.”

As of this posting, 131 NGOs have signed the letter released by ANPUD.

Last month, 39 United Nations member-states expressed serious concern over alleged extra-judicial killings under the Duterte administration's drug war. 

President Duterte has recently ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take charge of the anti-drug campaign, prompting the Philippine National Police to terminate its controversial Oplan Tokhang or house-to-house "knock and plead" operations targeting drug suspects. 

The Duterte administration has defended its anti-drug campaign, saying drug suspects killed in legitimate police operations put up violent resistance.

According to latest government data (PDEA/PNP/NBI), a total of 3,906 drug suspects were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to September 26, 2017. 

Government data also said there were 6,225 drug-related killings from July 2016 to September 2017.

This is contrary to estimates by human rights organizations, which put the death toll at 9,000 to 10,000, figures that the government has said are bloated. 

The Duterte administration has repeatedly denied that summary killings amid its drug war are state-sponsored.