James Taylor cancelled his concert in the Philippines to protest Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs

In concert.
In concert.
Image: AP Photo/Steven Senne
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Like the Donald, like Duterte.

As Donald Trump struggles to find musicians to perform at his inauguration, the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte finds himself in a similar situation. As a protest against the president’s war on drugs, James Taylor decided to cancel his concert in Manila.

Taylor, a Grammy Award-winning musician and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, was set to perform in February, but a statement from his Twitter account on Dec. 21 announced he will no longer visit the Philippines during his Asia-Pacific tour. “I don’t think of my music as being particularly political but sometimes one is called upon to make a political stand,” he said.

He acknowledged the importance of combatting the illegal drug trade but expressed concern about the increasing number of extrajudicial killings linked to Duterte’s crackdown.

Taylor himself battled with drug addiction in the 1960s. He was hooked on heroin early in his career and later on methadone, an opioid used to reduce symptoms that come with drug withdrawal. Many of Taylor’s songs reflect this struggle and carry themes about addiction and salvation.

Duterte’s controversial tactics to rid the Philippines of illegal drugs has claimed more than 6,000 lives. In a recent survey, a majority of Filipinos said they were worried one of their family members would be killed in his war on drugs, but many retain positive views about the administration.