Duterte has always denied involvement with the death squads though his campaign message was: ‘”And for those who fret over the rights of “drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings,” the incoming president promises a special viewing ceremony: “I will butcher [the criminals] in front of them if they want.”’
Duterte aka, “The Punisher”, was sworn in last week, as the president of the Phillipines, having won the May elections on a platform of crushing crime, but his incendiary rhetoric and seeming advocacy of extra-judicial solutions have alarmed many who hear echoes of the country’s authoritarian past. Infact, Dutarte had vowed to purge by the numbers : 100,000 unspecified “criminals” killed. He promised to eradicate Corruption and Crime, in a mere six months.
He infamously put out a message during the presidential campaigns saying: “‘And for those who fret over the rights of “drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings,” the incoming president promises a special viewing ceremony: “I will butcher [the criminals] in front of them if they want.”’
Now observers are wondering if the purge has started.
In keeping with the promises he made on the campaign trail, authorities in the Phillipines Thursday, announced the killing of thirty “drug dealers” since Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as Philippine president. The police also announced the seizure of nearly $20 million worth of narcotics. The annoncement has sparked a wave potesting voices against what is seen as ‘extra-judicial’ killings by various human rights and citizens groups including a lawyers’ group.
Oscar Albayalde, police chief for the Manila region, said five drug dealers were killed Sunday in a gunbatt
Manila police show cash and meth seised from drug dealers during a raid
“My men were about to serve arrest warrants when shots rang out from one of the houses in the area,” Albayalde told reporters, saying officers returned fire and killed five men.
Four guns and 200 grams of crystal methamphetamine were recovered. Three other “drug dealers” were killed in other areas in Manila on Sunday and 22 were killed in four areas outside the capital.
More tha drug dealers, over 100 members of the criminal fringe in the Phillipines have died, mostly suspected drug dealers, rapists and car thieves in stepped up anti-crime police operations since the election on May 9.
Edre Olalia, secretary-general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, said the killings must be halted
“The drug menace must stop … Yet the apparent serial summary executions of alleged street drug users or petty drug lords which appear sudden, too contrived and predictable must also stop,” he said in a statement. “The two are not incompatible.”
President Duterte’s campaign message “No guts, no glory
National police chief Ronald dela Rosa announced the seizure of a shipment of 400 lb of “shabu” (methamphetamine) worth about 900 million pesos ($19.23 million) from either China or Taiwan, by a joint force of drug enforcement agents and police in the north of the main island of Luzon. The shipment had been unloaded at sea , then brought to shore by small fishing boats before delivery to Manila’s Chinatown.
Duterte tapped into voters’ disgust with the Philippines’ political elite and the failure of successive governments to tackle poverty and inequality, drawing comparisons with Donald Trump and the rise of assertive populists across the globe.
In his maiden speech last week, the president conceded that many believe his methods “are unorthodox and verge on the illegal.” However, the 71-year-old former prosecutor said he knew right from wrong and would abide by the rule of law.
Duterte was mayor for 22 years of the southern city of Davao, where, according to human rights groups, death squads have killed at least 1,400 people since 1998, most of them drug-pushers, addicts, petty criminals and street children. He denies any involvement in vigilante killings.