President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte said he is taking full responsibility for the killing of suspected drug traffickers and users by the police.
In a speech at Club Filipino in San Juan City (Metro Manila) late Thursday, Duterte declared that he is “ultimately and legally responsible for it [killing].”
“For the things that I order the police and the military to do, I am the one ultimately, legally responsible for it. Ako, ‘wag sila [Only me, not them],” he said.
The Philippine National Police has pegged the number of drug suspects killed since May 10 at 192 but a media outlet’s tally placed it at 311, including the victims executed by suspected vigilantes.
The police had intensified the campaign against illegal drugs since Duterte swept into office.
“I am not defending the police. Nandiyan ako sa gitna [I’m in the middle]. I’m just pushing
for it [anti-drug campaign] kasi you [drug suspects]are putting my country in peril,” the President said.
“Mali ako o tama? [Am right or wrong?] [In] [f]our or seven years, if nobody interdicts, the drug business in the Philippines [will grow], we will be a narcopolitic,” he added.
Duterte brushed away demand that due process be given to policemen accused of involvement in the drug trade as well as the other drug suspects.
The President pointed out that it is the judiciary that should give due process.
“Anong due process? Due process, ulol, kung nasa korte ka na. Kung sasabihin, ‘We were not given by the President due process.’ Hindi ako korte [I am not a tribunal)]” Duterte said.
“Why should I give you due process? I can give you a lawyer. I cannot handle a proceeding or proceedings against you,” he added.
The President said that if he were to give due process, he would summon drug suspects to Malacañang.
“Murahin ko kayo doon. Tapos barilin ko kayo [I will give you a dressing down. Then I will shoot you]. ‘Wag… Due process. Due process. Hingiin mo ‘yan sa korte [Ask that from the court],” Duterte added.
“I have this sworn sacred duty to tell the Filipino the state of things in this country and simply the truth, period” he said.
As part of his promise to curb illegal drugs, Duterte had named five generals who are allegedly “drug protectors” and the three top drug lords operating in the country.
He reiterated his promise to end the drug menace in the country “even at the cost of my honor, life and presidency.”
“Kaya tatapusin, may magtatapos talaga nito [Somebody has to do and finish the job]. I have placed the burden upon myself,” Duterte said.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa on Friday welcomed the creation of vigilante groups that will also join the police in their intensified campaign against illegal drug syndicates.
He told reporters that he is giving importance to the organization, mobilization and involvement of citizens in the fight against the drug menace.
“Yes I made that statement [welcoming groups of vigilantes]. In fact that’s the other part of the overall efforts, but we have intensified our campaign against these high value targets,” dela Rosa said.
The PNP chief likened these groups to the Alsa Masa in Davao City that was organized during the 1980s to counter the threat and growing influence of the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Davao region.
“Just like the Alsa Masa in Davao, but this time it will be an Alsa Masa against [illegal]drugs,” dela Rosa said.
He added that a lot of people are willing to help the police carry out their anti-drug campaign but they need to be organized.
“We just want to organize them, mobilize them and get them involved… empowering them against illegal drugs, because you know drugs destroy our children,” dela Rosa said.