James Taylor cancels Manila act

MANILA • American singer, songwriter and activist James Taylor (with his third wife Caroline Smedvig) has cancelled the Manila leg of his tour next year "to make a political stand" over a spate of extrajudicial killings that have marked President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial anti-crime drive.

"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 law," Taylor, 68, said in a statement on his social media accounts.

Latest available data showed that more than 2,100 drug suspects have been killed in police operations since Mr Duterte, 72, who won on a promise to eradicate crime and corruption, took office on June 30.

Another 4,000 were believed to have been killed by vigilantes or in purges within criminal gangs.

About 41,000 suspected drug users and dealers have also been arrested.

Taylor said he had been looking forward to holding a concert in the Philippines, "but sometimes one is called upon to make a stand".

He was scheduled to perform in Manila on Feb 25, as part of his Before This World tour.

He said while the "scourge of addiction is a worldwide problem and does serious harm, not only to the addict but also to our society", and that efforts by governments to combat it is "understandable, even commendable", he disapproves of Mr Duterte's bloody approach.

Taylor, best known for hits that include You've Got A Friend, Fire And Rain, Your Smiling Face and Carolina On My Mind, was himself treated for heroin addiction early in his career.

He continued to struggle with narcotics until his second marriage, to actress Kathryn Walker in 1984. His first marriage was to fellow singer Carly Simon.

Taylor, 68, a professed liberal and a lifelong Democrat, has offered his support to various political causes, including drug addiction.

In an interview last year with The Telegraph newspaper, he said: "A big part of my story is recovery from addiction. One thing that addiction does is, it freezes you. One of the things you learn as you get older is that you're just the same."

He has a concert on Feb 21 in Singapore at The Star Theatre.

The concert will push through, his promoters said. Tickets from $98 went on sale in October via Sistic.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2016, with the headline 'James Taylor cancels Manila act'. Print Edition | Subscribe