In the government’s war against drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte defended his program by saying that it is either the safety of the public or the lives of the criminals.
Despite the mounting criticisms and expressions of concern over the alarming increase in the body count in this campaign against the drug menace in the Philippines, Duterte maintained that the illegal drug trade and usage in the country must stop, even if “there is always a price to pay.”
“Nothing is free in this life. There is always a price to pay,” Duterte was quoted by the Inquirer.
“These human rights [advocates], you choose: Is it the comfort and safety of the population or the lives of criminals?” he asked.
Duterte added that the government’s main duty is to protect the republic and its citizens.
He also said that those who died amid the campaign to purge the country of drugs were only in thousands while there are more than a hundred million Filipinos. He added that there is no certainty whether all those deaths were related to drugs.
“We are 104 million, you give me a s..t about – how many? – 1,600 being killed there,” Duterte said. “You’re not even sure how many of them died in an encounter, how many committed suicide, how many were killed out of anger.”
Duterte reiterated his support for the law enforcers.
“I take full responsibility [and so I tell the police], do your work… If you think there is a crime, shabu and if you have to shoot them, shoot them,” he said.
Dela Rosa tells police to defend themselves; only criminals should die
Visiting Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa told his men to protect themselves during drug and crime operations.
“Next time ayoko ng pulis na namamatay. Dapat ang kriminal ang mamatay, hindi tayo. ‘Pag kayo ay namatay walang taga-human rights na magpapakain sa mga anak ninyo, walang taga-human rights na magpapapaaral sa mga anak ninyo,” he said in his speech to the police personnel.
“Kaya you better say alive. Bahala na ang kaso afterwards. Harapin n’yo ang kaso kung magkakakaso kayo pero ang mahalaga buhay kayo,” he added.
Dela Rosa clarified however that this should not be taken as an encouragement for the police to violate the human rights of drug suspects.
“Hindi ko kayo ini-encourage na mag-violate ng human rights ha. We have to do our job based on the police procedures, according to the rule of law, dahil diyan tayo sinisita. Pero kahit anong sita ang gagawin nila sa atin, once na meron tayong ebidensya, anong magawa nila? It is our mandate to stop the drug menace. We do our job,” he said.
The police chief said he will support honorable policemen but will not tolerate those who embarrass their ranks.
“Kung kayo ay gumawa ng katinuan at kabutihan, kasama n’yo ako, hindi ko kayo iiwan hanggang sa dulo ng walang hanggan. Umabot man kayo sa langit o impiyerno hindi ko kayo iiwan. Pero kung kayo ay para sa masama tulad ng mga pulis na nagri-recycle ng droga hindi ko kayo sasamahan, ihahatid ko kayo sa impyerno,” Dela Rosa said.
“Kaya please kung meron sa inyo na despite of what is happening right now, na patuloy na gumagawa nang ganun, please maawa kayo, talagang ipapahinto ko kayo kung ayaw n’yong mahinto,” he added.
Duterte’s war against drugs have been criticized by UN Special Rapporteurs, angering him, so much so that he threatened to leave the United Nations (UN).
The United States department of state deputy spokesperson Mark C. Toner also expressed concern over the killings in the Philippines.
“We take any credible allegations of human rights violations very, very seriously. We’re very concerned – deeply concerned, I would say – about reports of extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines,” Toner said in a media briefing in Washington, D.C. on August 23.