MORE than 50 drug suspects were killed in the Philippines in the two days leading up to President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address on Monday, raising the death toll to nearly 300 since the premier took office on June 30.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) issued the latest statistics on Tuesday, saying a total of 293 suspects believed to be involved in the narcotics trade were killed in raids carried out between July 1 and 24, GMA News reported.
The police said a total 54 suspect fatalities over the weekend (July 23 and 24) were recorded, adding that another 129,753 suspected drug pushers and users turned themselves in, while another 3,748 were nabbed in arrests.
During the address, Duterte called on the PNP to intensify its efforts to clamp down on narcotics in the country.
“Double your efforts, triple them if need be. We will not stop until the last drug lord, last financer and last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars or below the ground if they so wish,” Duterte said.
As part of an operation named Plan Tokhang (Katok-Pakiusap), PNP members visited 68,947 houses to ask dealers and users to surrender.
Duterte also pledged his fullest support to law enforcement personnel and said “there would be no let up” on the war on drugs.
“Abuse your authority and there will be hell to pay for you will become worse than criminality itself,” he was quoted as saying.
Prior to taking office, the former Davao city mayor made the war on drugs as part of a campaign which secured his landslide victory in the general elections in May.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Duterte had earlier pledged to pardon police officers accused of rights abuses. The 71-year-old premier also compared himself to the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.
“I will retire with the reputation of Idi Amin,” he said, alluding to the African leader who ordered extrajudicial killings during his rule in the 1970s. “I will not let my country go to the dogs.”