There have been nearly 2,000 drug-related killings since Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30. Not that anyone in the Philippines is surprised.
On more than one occasion, the 71-year-old Duterte advertised his intentions about being very tough on drug-related crime as he campaigned for the leadership role.
“If I become president, I advise you people to put up several funeral parlor businesses. They will be packed. I’ll supply the dead bodies,” is one example of what Duterte said on the campaign trail, reported The Telegraph.
Before being president, the former lawyer is believed by many to have overseen a violent anti-crime crackdown, involving hit squads, in the southern city of Davao where he was a mayor for two decades.
Hence his nicknames ‘The Punisher’ or ‘Duterte Harry.’
As the country’s leader, Duterte has pretty much now given a green light to police and vigilantes to kill alleged drug pushers and users.
“These sons of whores are destroying our children. I warn you, don’t go into that, even if you’re a policeman, because I will really kill you,” Duterte told a crowd of 500 people in a Manila slum not long after he was sworn in.
“If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself, as getting their parents to do it would be too painful,” he said, reported The Guardian.
Driven by the fear of the anti-drug campaign, over 600,000 drug users and peddlers have handed themselves over to the police.
Duterte has set a 6-month deadline to have drug-related crimes under control.
According to multiple reports, support for the president’s campaign among much of Philippine society is real, with many seeing the drug problem being the source of society’s ills.
See another report by CNN:
The country’s new top cop, Director-General Ronald dela Rosa, told a Senate hearing on August 23 that there have been 1,900 drug-related killings since Duterte became president. That’s about 36 people per day.
About 1,100 deaths were still being investigated, dela Rosa said.
A few days later, that same police official also urged drug users to kill drug peddlers and burn their homes down.
“Why don’t you give them a visit, pour gasoline on their homes, and set these on fire to register your anger,” dela Rosa said in a speech aired on television on August 26, reported The Guardian.
“They’re all enjoying your money, money that destroyed your brain. You know who the drug lords are. Would you like to kill them? Go ahead. Killing them is allowed because you are the victim.”
Del Rosa later apologized for his remarks.
Most of the illegal drugs are crystal methamphetamine, locally known as shabu, which manly comes from China. More recently, Mexican drug gangs are also starting to operate in the country. According to the below report, police have observed cooperation between Chinese and Mexican drug gangs.
See this 18-minute report about shabu gangs produced before Duterte came to power: