Filipino mayor among 10 dead in clash with anti-drug po­lice

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -


Two months ago, Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte pub­licly read out the names of a town mayor and more than 150 other of­fi­cials he ac­cused of in­volve­ment in drug traf­fick­ing. Yes­ter­day, the mayor and nine of his men were killed in a clash with po­lice, in the dead­li­est op­er­a­tion in Duterte’s an­tidrug crack­down. Po­lice es­ti­mate that more than 3,600 sus­pected drug deal­ers and users have been killed since Duterte took of­fice on June 30. Af­ter his name was read out in Au­gust, Mayor Sam­sudin Di­maukom of Datu Saudi Am­pat­uan town­ship in south­ern Maguin­danao prov­ince turned him­self in to po­lice and de­nied in­volve­ment. He told the me­dia he was fight­ing il­le­gal drugs him­self and sup­ported Duterte’s crack­down.

Di­maukom and the nine others were killed at dawn yes­ter­day af­ter they opened fire from a van and an SUV on of­fi­cers man­ning a check­point in Makilala town in North Cota­bato prov­ince, po­lice Su­per­in­ten­dent Bernard Tay­ong said. “Our men were forced to re­tal­i­ate when the heav­ily armed sus­pects who were on board two ve­hi­cles be­gan fir­ing at them,” said Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Al­bert Ig­natius Ferro, who heads a po­lice an­ti­il­le­gal drugs force. Po­lice found an M16 ri­fle, four pis­tols, a 12gauge shot­gun, am­mu­ni­tion and at least 13 small plas­tic packs of sus­pected metham­phetamine, a stim­u­lant drug lo­cally known as shabu, from the bul­let-pep­pered ve­hi­cles of the sus­pects, po­lice deputy re­gional chief Se­nior Su­per­in­ten­dent Leonardo Suan said.

Po­lice said they had re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that Di­maukom’s group was plan­ning to trans­port a “huge” amount of metham­phetamine from Davao city, Duterte’s home­town, to Datu Saudi Am­pat­uan town. Duterte’s crack­down has drawn in­ter­na­tional con­cern over ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings, but he has re­peat­edly dis­missed crit­i­cisms and vowed to keep his elec­tion prom­ise to rid the coun­try of il­le­gal drugs. He orig­i­nally said he would do so in six months, but ex­tended that dead­line by half a year, say­ing he was over­whelmed by the mag­ni­tude of the drug me­nace.

The ex­tent of Duterte’s crack­down is un­prece­dented in the coun­try. Since he took of­fice, po­lice have ar­rested more than 31,600 drug sus­pects, and more than 750,000 peo­ple, mostly drug users, have sur­ren­dered to au­thor­i­ties, largely due to fears they could end up dead. Po­lice have vis­ited more than 2.6 mil­lion homes to urge sus­pected drug users and deal­ers to stop. —

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