By Catherine S Valente/Manila Times
President Rodrigo Duterte has warned of “widespread violence” as he continues his “harsh” campaign against the illegal drug-trade in the country.
In his speech during an event in Malacanang on Wednesday night, Duterte said he was “prepared” for the harshness and violence his drug war could instigate.
“I’ll try to finish, I’m not promising but we are all agreed the police and the Armed Forces, we will try to finish this. And I will be harsh. And there might be really widespread violence, but I am prepared for that,” he added.
“If that is the only way how to do it, then… If we have to die, then so be it, we die. After all we are, we should be in heaven,” the president said.
Duterte also renewed his vow to destroy anyone who would destroy the nation with illegal drugs. “Just like when I said when I was mayor, ‘Do not destroy my city because I will kill you. Do not destroy our sons and daughters because I will kill you.’ When I became president I said the same thing. ‘Please do not destroy my country,’” he said. Until he became President, Duterte was a long-time mayor of Davao City in Mindanao in southern Philippines.
The police force had been on the frontline of Duterte’s war on drugs before he transferred the reins to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency over a string of crimes linked to anti-narcotics operations of the Philippine National Police.
On Monday, the president instructed the military and police to reassess their operational procedures during law enforcement operations.
He expressed disappointment that some policemen and soldiers kill criminal suspects instead of following official procedures.
“I told the police not to commit abuse. You can kill them legally and why do you have to kill them illegally?” Duterte said in a speech at Malacanang. More than 4,000 drug suspects have been killed in police anti-drug operations under the Duterte administration because, according to authorities, they resisted arrest.
Human rights groups, meanwhile, contend that the death toll, including alleged victims of summary killings, could be more than 10,000.
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