PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte’s crackdown on drugs has now cost James Taylor’s Filipino fans their chance to see the American five-time Grammy Award winner perform live in Manila next year.
In a Twitter announcement Wednesday, Taylor said he felt compelled to remove the Philippines as one of the destinations on his Pacific tour list due to the ongoing crime crackdown.
The singer-songwriter said he had been looking forward to performing for his Philippine fans during the February tour and was saddened by the decision, although he described it as a necessary one.
“I don’t think of my music as being particularly political but sometimes one is called upon to make a political stand,” he explained.
— James Taylor (@JamesTaylor_com) December 21, 2016
Taylor went on to say he agreed that drug addiction is a scourge that affects countries the world over and that it was not wrong, even commendable, for nations to use the law to punish and prosecute offenders.
However, he said he disagreed with the Duterte administration’s unorthodox and even violent executions of drug suspects.
“Recent reports from the Philippines of summary executions of suspected offenders without trial or judicial process are deeply concerning and unacceptable to anyone who loves the rule of law,” Taylor said.
He then apologised to this Philippine fans for any inconvenience and disappointment his decision may cause them.
All those who purchased tickets, he added, will be fully refunded.
Taylor also gave his assurance that the decision will in no way affect his plans to perform in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand.
Since assuming the Philippine presidency in June, Duterte’s drug war has claimed the lives of over 5,000 drug suspects, many at the hands of vigilante groups fueled by their leader’s anti-drugs message.
The crime crackdown has sparked international criticism and calls for investigations into each killing, but the Philippine president has mostly dismissed the concerns.
The tough-talking leader made headlines again last week when he was quoted in reports as admitting to personally committing murders during his time as Davao City mayor.
Following the admission, several local senators said the president could be impeached, while the United Nations human rights commission urged for an international probe into the killing claims.