PHILIPPINES President Duterte is reportedly recovering from a swollen fist after punching in a fit of rage that come following the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to drop cases against several wealthy and high-profile suspects.
Last Friday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa refuted claims by critics of Duterte’s bloody war on drugs which has seen thousands of drug suspects, mostly from poor backgrounds, killed in police raids while “rich” drug lords evaded justice.
Dela Rosa said Duterte had “punched a wall” in the presidential palace after the DOJ dismissed the cases against numerous figures, including businessman Peter Lim and self-confessed drug dealer Kerwin Espinosa, according to the Inquirer.
“To all those saying that our war on drugs is a [ruse], I am mad at you,” he was quoted as saying.
Several photographs shared on social media showed Duterte’s right hand looking swollen while at home in Davao City. Some have doubted the veracity of Dela Rosa’s claim, however, pointing out the leader had attended the Organic and Natural Expo Mindanao in Davao City with ease last Saturday.
On Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said he was not aware of the incident. “I really don’t know if that really happened. If it was last Tuesday, I was with the President,” he said.
The DOJ earlier said law enforcement agencies should “gather more concrete and competent evidence proving that respondents and other individuals are indeed involved in illegal drugs trade.”
The collapse of the cases will be a blow to Duterte, who has been criticised by political opponents and human rights groups for primarily targeting small-time users and dealers in a brutal campaign that has left drugs kingpins largely untouched.
Since Duterte took office in June 2016, 4,021 people have been killed in what police call legitimate operations against “drug personalities” they say ended in shootouts. Police have blamed vigilantes for about 2,300 other drug-related homicides.