PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday brushed aside the possibility of being hauled into international courts over mounting deaths in his war against illegal drugs, daring his critics to send him to jail for it.
But Duterte, in his National Heroes’ Day speech, pointed out that he should not be compared with the murderous Islamic State or Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, both accused of various atrocities and crimes against humanity.
“Did I kill a child? Did I drop bombs like Assad and those other idiots? Did I burn women who refuse to have sex?” the President said at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig.
“I will take full legal responsibility. I will be happy to join them in prison. I will not ask for a special room. I’d just ask for a bed, foam, and something to read. Do not scare me with [these cases of]genocide,” he said.
Duterte again argued that his war against the illegal drug trade would be for the “law-abiding, God-fearing citizens to be comfortable, period, that they are not molested, their children can walk the streets and come home safe and sound.”
Last week, the Philippine National Police told a Senate investigation 756 drug suspects have been killed in police operations nationwide. A total of 1,160 deaths were also recorded “outside police operations,” likely perpetrated by vigilantes or drug syndicates out to cover their tracks.
On August 18, UN special rapporteurs Agnes Callamard and Dainius Pūras called on the Philippine government to stop the wave of killings of people linked to illegal drugs, saying that going after drug traders won’t exempt “state actors” from international legal obligations.
Callamard said Duterte’s supposed directives to kill drug suspects and drug users who don’t surrender were “irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law.”
“It is effectively a license to kill,” she said.
Duterte ignored the rapporteurs’ warning against encouraging impunity, and threatened to put a P2-million bounty on policemen involved in the illegal drug trade.
He even urged law enforcers to rat on their colleagues.
“I consider the fight against drugs a war. I am declaring war. It has infected every nook and corner of this country, involving generals, mayors, governors, barangay (village) captains, and so many of the ‘ninjas’ [as]we call them … these are the police who are into it,” Duterte said in Taguig.
“I might be inclined to place a reward on their head, the members of the police who are protecting the drug syndicates in this country. I am placing, per head, P2 million,” he said.
Duterte pointed out that there are now 3.6 million drug dependents in the country based on data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency. These drug dependents are not mere “users” given their sheer number, he claimed.
“You can just imagine a country with three million addicts and they say they are just users. My God! If you are a user, you are [also a]pusher. You have to [establish]connect[ion][with]somebody to finance the [drug]fix,” he claimed.
Duterte was unfazed by the killings and said his intensified anti-drug campaign won’t spare anybody, including the poor.
“They (critics) would want to make it appear that just because this guy is poor, therefore, he should not be made accountable to law but placed in a hospital,” he said.
“In this planet, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you see drugs as a viable livelihood, there will always be a drawback,” the President said.