JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesia President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is set to welcome Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who is expected to arrive in Jakarta on Thursday evening, September 8.
But not everyone in Indonesia may be happy with the tough talking head of state.
Political analyst Dewi Fortuna Anwar, who serves as Director for Program and Research at The Habibie Center, told Rappler that while Duterte is widely talked about in Indonesia, his popularity may not necessarily be a good thing.
“I don’t think it’s popularity but notoriety,” he said. “Popularity does not always mean they agree with him.”
Anwar warned that the Philippine president should prepare for “protests from human rights activists,” given his controversial approach to battling drugs in the Philippines. While she said she doesn’t think Jokowi would bring up the issue himself because of his unaggressive disposition, she did say criticisms were likely from other sectors.
“Extrajudicial killings have received wide media coverage here. There will probably be some criticisms. Maybe not from the Indonesian government but it could be from policy makers, media, NGOs and activists,” she said.
“In the ASEAN charter there is respect for human rights, in carrying out law enforcements with due process and while mindful of human rights. I hope president Duterte will be open to that kind of criticism because that is the bread and butter of any democracy.”
Both Jokowi and Duterte have claimed their respective countries are suffering from a drug crisis.
Both administrations are waging a war on drugs domestically, but have faced criticism from the international community for their approaches. The leaders are expected to discuss their respective anti-narcotics campaigns.
Jokowi is criticized for the executions of drug convicts and the use of the death penalty, while Duterte has been slammed for the increase of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines since his presidency, which are said to be related to his drug war.
The latest numbers say the war on crime in the Philippines has left almost 3,000 dead.
On Wednesday, Indonesia’s anti-drug chief Budi Waseso suggested Indonesia could follow a policy like that of the Philippines and revealed authorities were bolstering their resources to fight the drug trade.
“If such a policy were implemented in Indonesia, we believe that the number of drug traffickers and users in our beloved country would drop drastically,” the anti-drugs agency head said earlier this week.
“I would be on the frontline to eradicate all the traffickers.”
But Anwar said such an approach would never be allowed by the Indonesian people. She said the death penalty for drug convicts as it stands in Indonesia, is already being debated.
“While we fight drugs, those executed by the state have been convicted through a clear process of law and given all possible avenues of law. And that’s already being criticized,” she said.
Anwar also said that after the Suharto regime, the more the Indonesian people will ensure their human rights are respected.
“As a democracy we are mindful of human rights. The way of vigilantism is not acceptable here. Since Suharto, that is truly unacceptable here,” she said.
“We have been through an authoritarian regime, when the government felt it had the right to be the judge, jury and executioner. That’s not how a democracy works.”
Even before Duterte arrived in Indonesia, at least one rights group has already expressed disapproval over his drug approach.
In a statement, Human Rights Watch called Waseso’s interest in emulating the Philippines’ approach against drugs a “bad idea.”
“Waseso should publicly decry the Philippines’ ‘war on drugs’ for what it truly is: a brutal, unlawful assault on the rule of law and universal human rights protections that has targeted some of the country’s poorest, most marginalized citizens,” it said.
“When Indonesian President Joko Widodo meets with Duterte in Jakarta later this week, Jokowi should reject Duterte’s appalling ‘solution’ to the complex problems of drugs and criminality and emphasize the obligation of police and other security forces to respect everyone’s basic human rights.”
Jokowi and Duterte are scheduled to meet on Friday at 3pm when Jokowi welcomes Duterte to the state palace. – Rappler.com