It’s all fun and games until your multi-billion-tech company gets accused of glorifying Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly War on Drugs. At that point, you almost have no choice but to pull the plug on certain business relationships in order to avoid the proverbial fire and brimstone that is sure to come raining down.
This is exactly what the multi-faceted technological giant Apple Inc. has been forced to learn the hard way. It seems the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, stepped into his office the other day, only to find a nasty note from the Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD) burning a hole in his desk.
The letter, which reportedly came with the signed support of more than 130 organizations from countries all over the world, demanded the company remove a number of iOS games from the App Store because they sensationalize “the emerging tyranny of Duterte’s presidency and his government’s disregard for human rights principles.”
“This is unacceptable, we are disappointed as well as offended having to witness such a disgusting attempt to normalize mass murders and impunity through virtual games available in the App Store,” said ANPUD regional coordinator Anand Chabungbam.
“If Apple truly promotes human values (as they claim), then they will be responsive to our call and remove these apps immediately because these apps also violate their App Store Review Guidelines,” Chabungbam continued.
Some of the games in question include Duterte knows Kung Fu: Pinoy Crime Fighter, Duterte Running Man Challenge Game, Fighting Crime 2 and Tsip Bato: Ang Bumangga Giba!. All of these playable downloads made rockstar killers out of either President Duterte or Philippines police chief Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, as the overall objective was to use these prominent national figures to virtually murder as many drug offenders as possible.
Although the ANPUD admits it never received a formal response from Apple or Cook, it admitted that chastising the company for promoting extrajudicial murder was well worth the effort.
As of now, all of the games implicated in the letter have since been removed from Apple’s marketplace. However, they are still available for Android users from competing sources, including the Google Play store.
In a recent interview with the Philippine Star, police chief Dela Rosa said he was pleased with Apple’s decision to remove the games, which showed him and President Duterte fully engaged in a violent anti-drug campaign known as “Oplan Tokhang.”
“They made the wrong interpretation. Tokhang is not about shooting people,” Dela Rosa said.
But that’s not exactly true, according to Human Rights Watch. The group indicates that at least 7,000 suspected drug offenders have been murdered in the name of Duterte’s drug war. In fact, some of the statistics point to as many as 12,000 drug-related killings at the hands of both “unidentified gunmen” and the Philippine National Police.
Pulling the violent Duterte games from the App Store was likely no sweat off Apple’s back. The company simply partners with independent developers and takes 30 percent of the sales.
However, according to Apple’s App Store guidelines, the games probably should have been rejected from the start.
“We will reject apps for any content or behavior that we believe is over the line,” the company states.
Although the company says it will know this line when it sees it, the true nature of Duterte’s violent wrath against drug culture did not set off any immediate red flags. Yikes!