With characteristic bluster, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to kill corrupt police on live television on Tuesday, August 7. In a speech heavily peppered with expletives before policemen who had received complaints of ill-behavior, Mr. Duterte threatened to go after members of the force who are involved in crime, especially illegal drug cases.
Police officials announced that over one hundred from their force who had received complaints including robbery, kidnapping and even rape, had been summoned to Malacanang Palace, the president’s residence.
President Duterte has stepped up efforts to purge the police force of corruption, removing them twice last year from his “war on drugs” because of allegations of abuse. They have since been included again in drug raids, since the anti-narcotics agency does not have enough manpower and arms to ensure an efficient crackdown.
As he addressed the hundred police with cases against them, he said, “If you’ll stay like this, son of a bitch, I will really kill you.”
He warned them again, saying, “I have a special unit which will watch you for life and if you commit even a small mistake, I’ll ask that you be killed.”
And then, to the families of the policemen, the President said, “If these sons of bitches die, don’t come to us yelling ‘human rights, due process’ because I warned you already.”
While some Filipinos have excused their president’s speech as just another example of his style, human rights groups and even governments from the West have been alarmed at his speeches, considering that over 4,500 drug suspects face died in shootouts with police since the President took office in June 2016. Most of the slain have been from the poor sectors of society.
Mr. Duterte has remained unmoved by the opinion of others, and has pledged to keep waging the war on drugs until 2022, when his term ends.
He has even said he is ready to go to jail.
According to the police, almost 150,000 drug suspects have been detained, and many police have died due to the drug raids, showing how serious the problem is.
On the same day, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency announced that it had seized one of its largest hauls of methamphetamine, in the ongoing “war on drugs” that the Philippine President promised the country he would wage. Around 500 kilos (1,100 lbs.) of methamphetamine, locally known as shabu, was seized from two container vans that had been deserted in an international container port in Manila.
Aaron Aquino, head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency claims the vans originated from a drug syndicate in Malaysia, but were abandoned in Manila due to tightened screening methods.
Isidro Lapena, a commissioner with the Bureau of Customs, warned that any customs official discovered to have connections with drug traffickers would face arrest. He noted that, “The fact that this did not get through this time is an indication that many no longer want to cooperate with the drug syndicates.”