How the Philippine drug war inspired novelist Randy Ribay’s ‘Patron Saints of Nothing’

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Randy Ribay remembers the anger he felt when he first read about the drug war in the Philippines a few years ago.

“There was an immediate reaction of ‘this is wrong, there’s no due process, this is an abuse of human rights,’” the author recalled. “So it kind of shocked me when you’d see independent surveys saying 80 percent of Filipinos support the policy.”

“Patron Saints of Nothing”Kokila

Started by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, the drug war grew from his campaign promise to rid the country of illicit drugs and urging people to kill both criminals and drug addicts.

It has resulted in thousands of deaths and has been denounced by human rights activists and world leaders. As Ribay followed the news from his home in the Bay Area, he was startled to learn that almost all of his relatives in the Philippines supported the measures.

“The question that came up was that, as a Filipino American — I was born there but I’ve lived primarily in the United States, ‘What’s my right to voice my opinions on those matters or to advocate against certain policies in the Philippines?” Ribay said. “I just started wondering about what it would be like to be a teen right now struggling with that question.”





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