Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has named several government officials, including judges, members of Congress and military officers accused of having links to the illegal drug trade, just hours after vowing to maintain his “shoot-to-kill” order against drug dealers.
In a televised national address on Sunday, Duterte declared that the officials he accused would have their day in court, but quickly added while reading the list that “my mouth has no due process”.
He justified his reading of the list, saying he has a sworn duty to inform the public about the state of “narco-politics” in the country.
AL JAZEERA’S MARGA ORTIGAS IN MANILA:
As many as 57 people have turned themselves in to police in Metro Manila, with many saying the allegations against them are unfounded and that they are determined to clear their name.
The integrity of the list that President Duterte released over the weekend has also been questioned by some factions who have found that a number of those on the lists are either long dead, some did not even hold public office, and a few others were found to not exist at all.
Human rights activists are also worried about this ‘name and shame campaign’ as they see it, and by the high number of people that have been killed in police operations but also by vigilantes involved in this anti-drug campaign. More than 500 people have already been killed.
According to the news website Rappler, Duterte named a total of 158 officials, many of whom are police and military officers, but also include three members of Congress and seven judges.
Duterte was speaking from his constituency of Davao, where he served as mayor before winning the presidency.
Earlier on Saturday, Duterte had vowed to keep his “shoot-to-kill” order “until the last day of my term, if I’m still alive by then”.
“I don’t care about human rights, believe me,” he said, according to official transcripts released by the presidential palace.
About 800 people have been killed since Duterte won a landslide election in May, according to reports by the local press, which has been tracking reports of extra-judicial killings.
Later on Sunday, local television GMA News reported that five mayors and three vice mayors from the southern island of Mindanao surrendered to police, and denied Duterte’s allegations.
Michael Rama, former mayor of Cebu, the country’s second major city, has also denied being involved in the illegal drug business, calling the allegations “untrue”, but vowing to cooperate with authorities.
Meanwhile, the website Rappler reported that one of the judges included in the list has been dead for eight years.
‘I’m waging a war’
Duterte said government officials who use their positions to engage in a trade that wrecks the lives of many Filipinos were first on his list.
The president said he was also offering soldiers and police his “official and personal guarantee” of immunity from prosecution for killings undertaken in the performance of their duties.
In a homily delivered later on Sunday, Catholic leader Archbishop Socrates Villegas condemned the latest killings, saying, “I am in utter disbelief. If this is just a nightmare, wake me up and assure me it is not true. This is too much to swallow.
“From a generation of drug addicts, shall we become a generation of street murderers?” Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said in a statement posted on his website.
The UN anti-drugs office on Wednesday joined international rights organisations in condemning the rash of killings.
“The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime remains greatly concerned by the reports of extrajudicial killing of suspected drug dealers and users in the Philippines,” its executive director Yury Fedotov said in a statement.
But Duterte said he is waging a war, and is “now invoking the articles of war”.
Police say more than 500,000 people have surrendered to the local authorities and pledged to stop using illegal drugs.