Duterte boasts he killed crim­i­nals

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has said he per­son­ally killed sus­pected crim­i­nals when he was mayor of a south­ern city to set an ex­am­ple for po­lice. Duterte made the com­ments in a speech late on Mon­day night to busi­ness­men as he dis­cussed his cam­paign to erad­i­cate il­le­gal drugs, which has seen po­lice and un­known as­sailants kill thou­sands of peo­ple since he be­came pres­i­dent on June 30.

Af­ter speak­ing about po­lice killing sus­pects dur­ing the cur­rent crime war, Duterte said he led sim­i­lar ef­forts when he was mayor of Davao, the ma­jor south­ern city that he ruled for most of the pre­vi­ous 20 years. “In Davao I used to do it per­son­ally. Just to show to the guys (po­lice) that if I can do it why can’t you,” Duterte said in his speech at the presidential palace. “And I’d go around in Davao with a mo­tor­cy­cle, with a big bike around, and I would just pa­trol the streets, look­ing for trou­ble also. I was re­ally look­ing for a con­fronta­tion so I could kill.”

Duterte, 71, also re­sponded to crit­i­cism from hu­man rights groups and US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama about his an­ti­crime tac­tics, vow­ing he would not be in­tim­i­dated by their crit­i­cism into stop­ping. “Sorry, I am not about to do that,” he said. In a speech to ex­pa­tri­ate Filipinos dur­ing a state visit to Cam­bo­dia yes­ter­day, Duterte joked that as mayor of Davao he would go on mis­sions with po­lice and shoot blindly at crim­i­nal sus­pects. “I (would) some­times go along with them. If you say I shot some­one, maybe I did. I was clos­ing my eyes be­cause I am scared of fir­ing a gun,” said Duterte, a lawyer and for­mer state pros­e­cu­tor.

Rights groups have pre­vi­ously ac­cused Duterte of run­ning vig­i­lante death squads in Davao that killed more than 1,000 sus­pected crim­i­nals, in­clud­ing chil­dren ac­cused of petty crimes. Duterte has var­i­ously de­nied and ac­knowl­edged in­volve­ment in the death squads. But he eas­ily won presidential elec­tions in May af­ter promis­ing to roll­out his Davao law-and-or­der poli­cies across the nation. He pledged that 100,000 peo­ple would die in the crack­down and that so many bod­ies would be dumped in Manila Bay that fish there would grow fat from feed­ing on them.

Since tak­ing of­fice in late June, po­lice have re­ported killing 2,086 peo­ple in anti-drug oper­a­tions. More than 3,000 oth­ers have been killed in un­ex­plained cir­cum­stances, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial figures. Of­ten masked as­sailants break into shanty homes and kill peo­ple who have been tagged as drug traf­fick­ers or drug users. Rights groups have warned of a break­down in the rule of law with po­lice and hired as­sas­sins op­er­at­ing with com­plete im­punity.

Duterte has in­sisted that po­lice are only killing in self-de­fence and gang­sters are mur­der­ing the other vic­tims. But he has also said he will not al­low any po­lice to go to jail if they are found guilty of mur­der in pros­e­cut­ing his crime war. Sur­veys show a ma­jor­ity of Filipinos con­tinue to sup­port the charis­matic Duterte and his crime poli­cies, ac­cept­ing his ar­gu­ment that dras­tic ac­tion is re­quired to stop the Philip­pines from be­com­ing a narco-state. In October, Duterte com­pared him­self to Adolf Hitler and said he would be “happy to slaugh­ter” three mil­lion drug ad­dicts.

He later apol­o­gized for the Hitler ref­er­ence but said he was “em­phatic” about want­ing to kill the mil­lions of ad­dicts. In Septem­ber, a self-con­fessed Davao death squad mem­ber told a Se­nate hear­ing into the drug war that then-mayor Duterte per­son­ally gunned down a jus­tice depart­ment agent and or­dered the mur­ders of op­po­nents. The con­fessed hit­man, Edgar Ma­to­bato, said one of the vic­tims was fed to a croc­o­dile. Duterte’s aides de­nied the claims, sought to dis­credit Ma­to­bato and or­ches­trated the re­moval of the pres­i­dent’s chief po­lit­i­cal op­po­nent as chair of the Se­nate hear­ing. — AFP

MANILA: Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte ges­tures while de­liv­er­ing a speech be­fore lo­cal and for­eign busi­ness­men at Mala­canang Palace on Dec 12, 2016. — AFP

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