Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that the government’s crackdown on drugs will continue despite heavy criticism against it in connection with the recent killing of teenagers.
Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs came under fire following the deaths of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos and 19-year-old Carl Arnaiz, who were both killed by Caloocan City police in separate incidents of alleged shootouts last month.
In a speech in Davao City, the president insisted that the campaign is targeting organized crime and not “teenagers without a sin.”
“Let me be very clear on this. When I was campaigning, I said that I would kill anybody who would destroy my country and would kill you if you kill the youth of the land. I am referring not to teenagers without a sin. I’m referring to organized crime,” he said on Saturday, September 16.
Duterte won the 2016 presidential election in a landslide victory, and the crackdown on narcotics was among his campaign promises.
But despite condemnation from both local and international groups over alleged human rights violations and summary killings, the president maintained that there would be “no letup” and “no compromise” in the government’s effort to free the country from illegal drugs.
“I will fulfill my promises to the Filipinos. Just because there are some people who died there, and even teenagers, it doesn’t mean to say you have to stop. We cannot stop. Otherwise, I will throw this country to the dogs,” Duterte said.
He added, “Either you accept it as a fact of your life now, today or you will die of exasperation, or you can kill me if you want. Feel free to do it but I won’t hold back.. I will not be remembered as the President in whose time the Philippines went to the dogs because of drugs. I can’t accept that.”
He also apologized anew for the death of civilians, expressing support for National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) Director Oscar Albayalde’s order to relieve the around 1,200 members of the Caloocan City police.
Albayalde’s order came following the controversial death of delos Santos and Arnaiz, and a recent incident where police officers caught on a CCTV camera entering and ransacking the house of a civilian without a warrant.
“With regard to the deaths, I’m sorry. But it had to happen. I’m sorry that there are policemen who are deaf and maybe taking shabu or involved in shabu trade because the entire Caloocan police was relieved,” Duterte said.
In a separate statement, Duterte said he will invite the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) to monitor police operations for any abuses should Congress end up giving the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) a measly P1,000 budget for 2018.
“I will personally through an official channel, invite the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations to set up a satellite office here,” he told reporters on Monday, September 18.
“Lahat ng operation ng pulis, they will embed an investigator, magpasok sila ng kasama sa pulis, wala ako problema diyan (All police operations, they will embed an investigator, they’ll assign someone to go with police, I have no problem with that),” he added.