Dozens sur­ren­der in Manila after drug trade al­le­ga­tions

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

DOZENS of Philip­pine gov­ern­ment and po­lice of­fi­cials turned them­selves in on Mon­day, a day after Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte linked them to the drug trade, step­ping up a war on nar­cotics that has killed hun­dreds since he took office in June.

More than 400 sus­pected drug deal­ers have been killed by po­lice across the Philip­pines since Duterte took over, of­fi­cials say. Broad­caster ABS-CNN put the num­ber closer to 800, as the fig­ure in­cludes ex­e­cu­tions by anony­mous vig­i­lantes.

Yes­ter­day, 27 may­ors and 31 po­lice of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing a colonel, went to the na­tional po­lice office in the cap­i­tal, Manila, to clear their names, fear­ing the pres­i­dent’s or­der to hunt them down if they failed to sur­ren­der within 24 hours.

Sev­eral lo­cal of­fi­cials re­ported to re­gional po­lice of­fices to beat the dead­line set by Duterte, who won the elec­tions in May on a sin­gle plat­form of fight­ing crime and drugs.

On Sun­day, he iden­ti­fied about 160 of­fi­cials in a name-and­shame cam­paign. “I want to change,” a Cebu-based busi­ness­man tagged as a top-level drug traf­ficker told re­porters after he met na­tional po­lice chief Ron­ald dela Rosa.

Nick­named “the pun­isher” and “Duterte Harry” for his bru­tal fight on crime, Duterte has hit back at ac­tivists in­censed by the surge in the killings of sus­pected drug traf­fick­ers.

Alarmed hu­man rights groups have urged the United Na­tions to con­demn the rise in ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings. The Philip­pine Se­nate is ex­pected to hold a leg­isla­tive in­quiry.

Dela Rosa rep­ri­manded the po­lice of­fi­cers on Duterte’s list, threat­en­ing to kill them if they con­tin­ued to pro­tect drug traders and re­sell seized drugs. At one point, he chal­lenged them to a fist­fight. “I am mad with what is hap­pen­ing,” Dela Rosa said in a speech to lo­cal of­fi­cials and po­lice. “I am ashamed. We should be the ones ar­rest­ing these peo­ple, but we are pro­tect­ing them. I will kill you if you will not change.”

All po­lice of­fi­cers linked to the drug trade were dis­armed, in­ves­ti­gated and could face crim­i­nal and ad­min­is­tra­tive cases if there was strong-enough ev­i­dence, said na­tional po­lice spokesman Dionardo Car­los. “They will be ac­corded due process,” he added. Be­sides lo­cal of­fi­cials and po­lice of­fi­cers, Duterte’s list in­cluded two re­tired po­lice gen­er­als, sol­diers, para­mil­i­tary mem­bers, judges and a for­mer politi­cian.

In a let­ter, Supreme Court Chief Jus­tice Maria Lour­des Sereno on Mon­day told the pres­i­dent that the court alone had the right to dis­ci­pline judges. One judge named by Duterte died eight years ago and two oth­ers have al­ready been re­moved.

In his maiden speech to the Se­nate, box­ing icon Manny Pac­quiao sup­ported Duterte’s drug war and pro­posal to re­store the death penalty for drug crimes, and ad­vo­cated ex­e­cu­tion by hang­ing or by fir­ing squad. — AFP

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