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Police in Philippines tell drug users to kill dealers and burn their homes

“You know who the drug lords are. Would you like to kill them? Go ahead.”

Philippine National Police Chief Ronald
Philippine National Police Chief Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa takes his oath prior to the start of the Senate probe on the rising number of deaths related to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.
Image: Bullit Marquez/AP/Press Association Images

THE PHILIPPINES’ POLICE police chief has called on drug users to kill traffickers and burn their homes, escalating President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial crime war that has claimed 2,000 lives.

“Why don’t you give them a visit, pour gasoline on their homes and set these on fire to register your anger?,” Ronald dela Rosa said in a speech aired on television today.

“They’re all enjoying your money, money that destroyed your brain. You know who the drug lords are. Would you like to kill them? Go ahead. Killing them is allowed because you are the victim.”

Dela Rosa was speaking to several hundred drug users who had surrendered in the central Philippines.

Dela Rosa’s comments followed Duterte’s own controversial directives that have sparked criticism from the United Nations and human rights groups.

Duterte, 71, won elections in May in a landslide on a vow to kill tens of thousands of suspected criminals in an unprecedented blitz that would eliminate illegal drugs in six months.

He promised on the campaign trail that 100,000 people would be killed and so many bodies would be dumped in Manila Bay that fish would grow fat from feeding on them.

Days after his election win, Duterte also offered security officials bounties for the bodies of drug dealers.

And when he took office on 30 June, Duterte told a crowd in Manila:

If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.

The UN special rapporteur on summary executions, Agnes Callamard, said such directives “amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law”.

However Dela Rosa and Duterte have insisted they are working within the law and their aides have dismissed some of their comments as merely “hyperbole” meant to scare drug traffickers.

‘Sad, mad and sorry’

After a barrage of bad headlines, Dela Rosa apologised for his remarks and described them as due to an “emotional outburst”.

phil Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Source: Bullit Marquez/AP/Press Association Images

“Yesterday, I said that because I felt so bad. I was in front of those poor people, pushers and users, they looked like zombies. I was so mad, that’s why I said that,” he told reporters.

I’m sorry if I said something unpleasant. Many people are reacting. I am very sorry. I am just a human being who gets mad.

When asked earlier today if Duterte supported Dela Rosa’s call to murder and commit arson, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella denied that was the police chief’s intent.

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“There is no such call. It’s a passionate statement,” Abella said, without elaborating.

Dela Rosa recently told a Senate inquiry that the confirmed number of people to have died in the drug war was 1,946.

He said police had shot dead 756 suspects in self-defence.

He said there were another 1,190 killings under investigation, but they were likely due to drug gangs murdering people who could implicate each other. He also emphasised the crime war had so far been a success.

“I admit many are dying but our campaign, now, we have the momentum,” he told the Senate.

Many Filipinos continue to support Duterte, accepting his argument that drastic measures are needed to stop the Philippines becoming a “narco state”.

© AFP 2016

Read: Philippines president says threat to pull country out of UN was just a ‘joke’

Read: Police in Philippines kill over 700 people in crackdown on drugs

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