‘If it’s drugs, you shoot and kill,’ says the leader of one nation of his fight against drugs

Latin America World

 Chivis Martinez Borderland Bat TY Gus  Guardian

He calls it his war on drugs, others call it social cleansing as his death squads kill thousands of “suspects” on sight….

Philippine president Rodrigo
Duterte has said he has no problem with being held responsible for the
thousands of killings under his government’s war on drugs, adding that he was
ready to face charges that could land him in jail, though not charges of crimes
against humanity.

The president’s televised remarks
on Monday night were among his clearest acknowledgment of the prospects that
he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched
after taking office in mid-2016.

The killing of nearly 6,000 drug
suspects have been reported by police but rights watchdogs suspect the death
toll is far higher.

“If there’s killing there, I’m
saying I’m the one … you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that
has occurred in the execution of the drug war,” Duterte said.

“If you get killed it’s because
I’m enraged by drugs,” the president said. “If that’s what I’m saying, bring me
to court to be imprisoned. Fine, I have no problem. If I serve my country by
going to jail, gladly.”

At least two complaints for
crimes against humanity and mass murder in connection with Duterte’s campaign
are being examined by an international criminal court (ICC) prosecutor, who
will determine whether there is enough evidence to open a full investigation.

Duterte responded to the
complaints by withdrawing the Philippines from the court two years ago in a
move that human rights groups said was a major setback in the country’s battle
against impunity. The ICC prosecutor has said the examination into the drug
killings would continue despite the Philippine withdrawal.

Duterte framed his remarks by
portraying the drug menace as a national security and public threat like the
decades-long communist insurgency that the government is obligated to quell.

“If this is allowed to go on and
on and if no decisive action is taken against them, it will endanger the
security of the state,” said Duterte, a former government prosecutor.

“When you save your country from
the perdition of the people like the NPAs and drugs, you are doing a sacred
duty,” he said, referring to communist New People’s Army insurgents.

There are 1.6 million drug
addicts in the Philippines, Duterte said, citing statistics from an
anti-narcotics agency. The figure is much smaller than the 4 million addicts
that he cited the police as reporting early in his presidency to justify his

Police have reported at least
5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others
arrested since the start of the crackdown. Human rights groups have accused
authorities of considerably under reporting the deaths.

‘If it’s drugs, you shoot and
kill,’ Duterte orders Philippine custom chief.

Duterte said drug killings that
did not happen during police operations should not be blamed on him, adding
those deaths may have been set off by gang rivalries or settling of scores.

There have been widespread
suspicions of extrajudicial killings in the crackdown, allegations that Duterte
and the police deny.

In 2018, a court convicted three
police officers of murdering a 17-year-old student after witnesses and a
security video disproved their claim that the suspect was shot after violently
resisting, a common reason cited by police officers after drug suspects are