Dozens of Philippine officials surrender over links to drug trade | News | DW | 08.08.2016
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Dozens of Philippine officials surrender over links to drug trade

The national police chief has threatened to personally kill police officers who continue to protect drug dealers. But human rights organizations have criticized the president's "shoot-to-kill" policy.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa (L) gestures to police officers allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade at Camp Crame in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, Philippines

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa (L) gestures to police officers allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade at Camp Crame in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, Philippines

Dozens of government and police officials on Monday surrendered after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte publically named them as suspects linked to the illicit drug trade.

At least 27 mayors and 31 police officers, including a colonel, made their way to the national police headquarters before a 24-hour deadline set by Duterte expired.

The Philippine president on Sunday threatened to send "the entire armed forces of the Philippines" to hunt the suspects if they failed to turn themselves in.

National police chief Ronald dela Rosa reprimanded the officers named by the president.

"I am ashamed. We should be the ones arresting these people, but we are protecting them. I will kill you if you will not change," dela Rosa said.

"This is not the end, and we need the public's level of awareness regarding the war on drugs to remain high so that people cooperate," he added.

Police spokesman Dionardo Carlos said all police officers linked to the illicit drug trade were disarmed, investigated and face criminal and administrative cases. "They will be accorded due process," he said.

More than 400 suspected drug dealers and pushers have been killed since Duterte assumed office on June 30, while nearly 600,000 people have surrendered in fear of what human rights groups describe as a threat to human rights in the country.

'Government failure'

More than 300 non-governmental organizations sent an open letter to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in early August to protest Duterte's policy in the Philippines.

"International drug control agencies need to make clear to Philippines' President Roderigo Duterte that the surge in killings of suspected drug dealers and users is not acceptable 'drug control,' but instead a government failure to protect people's most fundamental human rights," said Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia Director Phelime Kine.

"President Duterte should understand that passive or active government complicity with those killings would contradict his pledge to respect human rights and uphold the rule of law," he added.

The president won the 2016 presidential election in May by campaigning on a single platform of fighting drug-related crime.

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ls/kl (Reuters, dpa)

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