PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte has now placed a PHP2 million (US$43,000) bounty on the heads of every police officer found protecting drug lords, raising the stakes in his government’s highly-controversial war on the narcotics trade.
The intrepid president who has been making global headlines for his harsh stance on the drug menace also vowed to stay relentless despite international concern over the wave of extrajudicial killings sparked by the campaign.
“I will be harsh as I can ever be. I will not relent. The campaign will be continuous. I will finish this war against corruption, drugs, and crime,” he was quoted saying by GMA News in a speech at the National Heroes Day commemoration yesterday.
“I am inclined to place a reward on their head, the members of the PNP [Philippine National Police] who are protecting drug syndicates in this country.
“I am placing on their head P2 million,” the president added.
The Duterte administration’s war on drugs has so far claimed the lives of an estimated 1,800 people, some who died at the hands of Philippines security forces. Many others, however, were reportedly killed by vigilantes, fueled by the president’s anti-narcotics message.
Duterte, who won his presidency in May this year on the anti-narcotics platform, has so far ignored condemnation from rights groups and leaders both from within and outside the Philippines, and has pressed on with his campaign.
On Friday, the president reportedly said junkies could not be considered humans.
A report by Inquirer quoted Duterte as telling soldiers at a military camp in his hometown of Davao City that human rights advocates slamming his war on drugs should review their principles.
“These human rights (advocates) did not count those who were killed before I became president. The children who were raped and mutilated [by drug users].
“That’s why I said, ‘What crime against humanity?’. In the first place, I’d like to be frank with you, are they (drug users) humans? What is your definition of a human being? Tell me,” he asked.
Just before Duterte officially took office in June, he urged the public to join him in his fight against drugs, telling those with guns to shoot and kill drug dealers who tried to fight back.
In response, drug lords reportedly started a “Kill Duterte fund” in a bid to pool their wealth together to set a PHP1 billion bounty for the president and several other leaders.