‘I Will Include You!’

Duterte targets human rights defenders, lawyers for drug dealers

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - Front Page -

DAVAO – President Rodrigo Duterte threatened so-called human rights defenders or activists who obstruct or critical of the government’s narcotics war, and also lawyers of alleged drug dealers in the country. “The human rights (defenders) said I ordered the killings. I told them ‘Okay. Let’s stop. We’ll let them (drug users and pushers) multiply so that when it’s harvest time, more people will die. I will include you because you are the reason why their numbers swell,” Duterte said recently.

Duterte likened the magnitude of the drug problem in the country to a stage 2 cancer. “If the human rights (people) could not understand what I’m saying, if you’re that stupid, then I cannot do anything for you,” he said. He also said that drug suspects were able to post bail and avoid prosecution because they have “good, high-profile lawyers.” He warned: “Even their lawyers, I will include them.” Human rights defenders have been critical of Duterte’s war on drugs and blamed him for the rash of alleged extrajudicial killings of suspected drug pushers and users. Duterte strongly denied the accusations he was behind it or had ordered the police to kill drug pushers.

Police have attributed those killings to drug suspects who “resisted arrest and shot at police officers” and others had been killed by unidentified gunmen

The Human Rights Watch, also critical of Duterte’s drug war said he should disavow his threat to target the lawyers of alleged drug dealers and reaffirm the right of criminal suspects to legal counsel and due process of law.

“Duterte’s threats against lawyers and human rights defenders constitute a dangerous extension of his abusive ‘war on drugs’ that has already resulted in more than 5,000 killings,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The sinister lesson of Duterte’s first six months in office is that the groups and individuals he publicly identifies as legitimate targets in his drug war all too often end up dead, in high numbers.”

But despite the criticisms, many Filipinos favor Duterte’s drug campaign.

President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo by Ace Morandante)

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