The new president’s extreme hardline stance on crime has alarmed rights groups
By Will Worley
Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte. REUTERS by Erik De Castro
The strongman president of the Philippines has told people to “go ahead and kill” drug addicts.
Former lawyer Rodrigo Duterte was only sworn in at the end of June but has already incited the killing of large numbers of criminals, in particular drug traffickers.
The controversial figure is known for his hardline stance on crime, with his favoured position to simply kill people he regards as lawbreakers. During his time as mayor of Davao city, once crime ridden but now peaceful, he gained a reputation for being involved in extra-judicial killings.
It appears his presidency could be marked by the same trait. Just after his inauguration, he told an audience in a Manila slum: “If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.”
Drug dealers are also in Mr Duterte’s sights. In a separate engagement, he said: “These sons of whores are destroying our children. I warn you, don’t go into that, even if you’re a policeman, because I will really kill you.”
Hundreds of drug addicts and pushers have recently surrendered to authorities, concerned they would be killed in an imminent crackdown, officials have told the media.
In recent weeks, dozens of suspected drug dealers have been killed, either in reported gun battles with police or under mysterious circumstances. On 1 July, 10 drug dealers were killed separately in gunfights with police in Bulacan province, north of Manila, as the nationwide crackdown commenced, according to police.
In another dramatic move against the illegal drug trade, Mr Duterte has urged communist rebels – with whom he plans to engage in peace talks – to kill drug traffickers.
Referencing the extra judicial procedures some communist groups conduct, he said: “Drugs have reached the hinterlands … what if you use your kangaroo courts to kill them to speed up the solution to our problem?”
“Do your duty,” Mr Duterte told an audience of police officers. “If in the pro
The new president has alarmed rights groups with his brash and foul mouthed rhetoric of killing but has maintained he will not become a dictator.
He has told the police he is not afraid of being impeached by Congress while fighting crime, and assured officers he would protect them if they kill large numbers of people while cracking down on lawlessness.
“Do your duty,” Mr Duterte told an audience of police officers. “If in the process you kill 1,000 persons because you were doing your duty … I will protect you, and if they will try to impeach me, I will hurry up the process and we go out of the service together.”
The president was inaugurated on Thursday in austere rites at Manila’s Malacanan presidential palace after winning power on a promise to eradicate crime and corruption in three to six months.
Rodrigo Duterte has been sworn in as the Philippines president. He swept to victory in the election last month, signalling a major shift in the political landscape of the Philippines. Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay reports from Manila.
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