Apple has removed a number of games from the App Store that saw players take on the role of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte or police chief Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa as they kill criminals. A regional drug users’ advocacy group said the titles glamorized the government’s war on drugs, which has seen nearly 12,000 killings, at least 2555 of which have been attributed to the Philippine National Police.
The Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD) sent Apple CEO Tim Cook an open letter last month asking for an apology for hosting insensitive content and the removal of games including "Duterte knows Kung Fu: Pinoy Crime Fighter," which “normalize mass murders.”
ANPUD said the games "actively promoted the war on people who use drugs in the Philippines. Some of these games had been downloaded by over a million iPhone users. These games had to be removed immediately." 131 other organizations lent their support to the cause by signing the letter.
"We did not receive a direct response from Mr Cook or Apple," the group said in a statement. "However, most of the apps no longer appear."
Ronald dela Rosa, who is a playable character in some of the games, told the Philippine Star that their removal was not a good idea and that the country's operation to tackle drug users was not about killing or the use of violence.
"They made the wrong interpretation. Tokhang [the name of the operation] is not about shooting people," he told reporters, adding that it actually involved knocking on the doors of suspects’ homes and urging them to stop their illegal activities.
Although the games have been removed from Apple’s store, they still appear on the Google Play store.