Backers of ‘drug protector’ mayor shot dead by cops
POLICE shot dead six supporters of a Philippine mayor yesterday, authorities said, days after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to have him “shot on sight” for protecting his drug-dealing son.
Hundreds of people have died since Mr Duterte took power after winning a landslide election on the pledge to wipe out lawlessness by killing tens of thousands of criminals and drug dealers.
A gunfight broke out between law enforcement and supporters of Mayor Rolando Espinosa at dawn in his central hometown of Albuera, local police said.
Six gunmen were killed while police recovered 17 guns and several grenades.
On August 1, Mr Duterte gave the mayor and his son 24 hours to surrender after two of the mayor’s bodyguards and three other employees were arrested in a police anti-drug operation.
“Otherwise, the cops will be given an order of ‘shoot on sight’ if they resist and endanger the lives of arresting police officers,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on television.
Mr Espinosa surrendered to police on Aug 2, saying he feared for his safety after the president threatened reprisals for allegedly coddling his drug-dealing son.
The mayor “surrendered to me ... [following] orders of the president for him to be shot on sight if he resists”, national police chief Ronald de la Rosa said.
Police claim to have killed more than 400 suspected drug dealers since Mr Duterte was elected, although the figure could be higher.
The rising body count has shocked the world, and hundreds of anti-narcotics and human rights groups called for the United Nations to condemn Mr Duterte’s policy. –