In the Philippines, the rise of a new Prime Minister has led to a surge in vigilante and police killings thanks to Rodrigo Duterte’s, the aforementioned prime minister, heavy handed rhetoric. He has called for people all across the nation to lash out at drug dealers and users, with a reported 3,000 already being killed. Duterte rose to power thanks to his harsh policies in his town of Davao which proved effective, albeit harsh and resulted in a proliferation of death squads. Thanks to his rhetoric, death squads have popped up all over the country and the number of police kills has exponentially raised.
I think this is an example of the Ring of Gyges. Much like the ring gives man impunity to do wrong, Duterte’s harsh rhetoric and egging on of these attacks against drug dealers and users has given vigilantes and police carte blanche to enact their own from of justice outside the bounds of the legal system. While drug dealing is no way a moral action, they are still humans who have a right to due process and to be judged by a fair legal system, not by a thug with a gun. By not just allowing these killings, but actively encouraging them, Duterte is setting a very dangerous precedent as there are already accounts of non-drug dealers being killed in the streets by death squads and then being labeled as such to avoid repercussions of the murders. The legal shield Duterte is giving to these vigilantes is the bringing out the worst in man, as without consequences for what is in essence murder, they are effectively wearing a ring of legal invisibility and killing without remorse or accountability.