Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has rejected an offer by the national police chief to quit over the murder of a South Korean businessman by police officers.
Duterte instead ordered Director General Ronald De La Rosa to concentrate on the campaign against illegal drugs and to go after rogue police officers when they met at the police chief’s birthday party late Sunday.
“He stays there. Bato has my complete trust,” the president said, referring to De La Rosa by his nickname, according to transcripts released yesterday.
The suspects in the case, all members of a police anti-narcotics task force, allegedly seized the South Korean man in October using a fake arrest warrant and extorted a 5mn peso ($100,000) ransom from his wife. The victim was strangled to death inside a vehicle in the national police headquarters in Manila on the day he was seized, according to one of the officers arrested in the case.
The man’s body was then cremated in a funeral parlour, whose owners and employees were also being investigated.
Legislators and human rights groups warned that the South Korean’s killing highlights abuses under the government’s aggressive anti-drug campaign.
Since Duterte came to power in late June, 2,256 suspects have died in police operations against drug users and pushers, according to police statistics.
Police are also investigating nearly 3,000 additional deaths in the first six months of Duterte’s presidency, including possible vigilante killings in connection with the drug war.