Philippines' Duterte Renews Call for Extrajudicial Killings

During televised remarks that followed a cabinet meeting on the coronavirus pandemic, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte publicly called on the country’s top customs official to simply execute drug smugglers. 

Rodrigo Duterte 2009It is far from the first time Duterte has advocated extrajudicial killings in response to drug crimes. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)“I approved the purchase of firearms and until now you haven’t killed even one?” Duterte said on Monday, referring to Rey Leonardo Guerrero, the commissioner of the Philipine’s Customs Bureau.

“I told him, ‘shape up’. I told him straight: ‘drugs are still flowing in. I’d like you to kill there,” Duterte said, adding that “I’ll back you up, and you won’t get jailed.”

It’s far from the first time Duterte has advocated extrajudicial killings but has also called on the government to reintroduce the death penalty for drug smugglers. 

In contrast to Duterte’s statement that authorities “haven’t killed even one [drug smuggler,]” according to Human Rights Watch, thousands have been killed in the country’s war on drugs over the four years of Duterte’s administration, including more than 100 children.

“President Duterte’s “drug war” still rages, with killings by police and unidentified associates reported daily. But rather than investigating the crimes and bringing those responsible to justice, the administration harasses and jails critics and publicly encourages more killings,” HRW said in a June letter calling on the U.N. to set up an investigation into the killings.

Some 1.8 million Filipinos are illegal drug users, according to a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights

“The challenges posed by illegal drugs have wide-ranging human rights impacts and the Government has adopted an anti-illegal drugs strategy,” the report said. “But successive administrations have mostly employed increasingly violent law enforcement measures and disturbing rhetoric in the campaign against illegal drugs and related crimes, even as senior government and police officials have questioned the impact and effectiveness of these policies.

“This trend sharpened during the presidential election campaign of 2016, when the current President, Rodrigo Duterte, pledged to kill criminals and eliminate corruption and drugs in ‘three to six months’.”

OCCRP named in 2017 Duterte man of the year in organized crime and corruption.