Blog Post

Google Should Follow Apple's Lead and Remove Video Games Glorifying the Drug War in the Philippines

Hannah Hetzer

The President of the Philippines is responsible for a brutal drug war that has killed thousands of people in his country. He is also the protagonist in a series of online video games that glorify these murders. In these games, players act as Duterte and score points by eliminating “criminals”, “zombies”, and “people infected by drugs”, echoing the stigmatizing language used by Duterte himself in reference to people who use drugs. Up until yesterday, these games were widely available on Apple’s app store, as well as on Android’s Google Play store. Yesterday, Apple quietly removed the games from its store.

The removal of the games from Apple’s store comes after the Asian Network of People Who Use Drugs (ANPUD) released an open letter in October to Apple CEO Tim Cook calling on Apple “to immediately remove apps (games) that are promoting murder, extrajudicial killings, violence, and the war on drugs in the Philippines.” The letter was signed by 131 organizations, including human rights and drug policy reform groups.

Meanwhile, the Google Play store continues to host the offensive and gruesome games (some rated “E” for “Everyone”) glorifying President Duterte’s drug war. In September, we called on Google to take down these games.

Sign this petition: Tell Google Play to Remove Games That Glorify Duterte’s Horrific Drug War in the Philippines

President Duterte has championed a campaign that is responsible for the extrajudicial killing of more than 12,000 people, showing his complete disregard for due process or human rights. It seems pretty clear that these games violate Google Play's policy, which says, “We don’t allow apps that lack reasonable sensitivity towards or capitalize on a natural disaster, atrocity, conflict, death, or other tragic event.” Google should follow Apple’s lead and remove the video games that capitalize on the real tragedy that is unfolding in the Philippines.

Hannah Hetzer is the senior policy manager of the Americas for the Drug Policy Alliance.

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