MANILA, Philippines - Killing a thousand people in the line of duty is justified.
This was the message of President Duterte yesterday to police personnel as he assured them that he has their back in their mission of keeping the public safe.
“Do your duty, and if in the process you kill one thousand persons because you were doing your duty, I will protect you. And if they try to impeach me, I will hurry the process and we will go out of the service together,” Duterte said.
He conveyed the message during ceremonies for Director General Roland de la Rosa’s assumption of command of the Philippine National Police (PNP) .
Duterte said he would be ready to die for police and protect them.
“Do not bulls**t me… do your duty, I will die for you,” he told the police top brass during the command turnover ceremony held at the PNP headquarters at Camp Crame.
Duterte stressed that the drug menace poses a “clear and present danger” that needs to be addressed with the help of the military.
He cited the executive order of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo that raised the threat of narcotics as a national security concern.
Duterte said this is necessary to prevent the country from being run by drug lords, like some countries in South America.
“Where do you find a country, a mayor is inaugurated in the morning and in the afternoon, he is executed? That will not happen, that will not happen during my watch. I said I will be harsh,” he said.
Without directly saying he is giving law enforcers a field day to kill drug offenders, Duterte said the killings should be justified – like when the suspects fight it out with lawmen.
If the suspect resists arrest or fights back, Duterte said that constitutes self-defense for the police.
“But for all, about this killing, extrajudicial killing, may I again bring you back to your fundamentals,” Duterte said.
“About the only time that a police officer or any civilian for that matter acting in defense for himself or for a stranger, is that you announce your authority or at least the crime or the wrong that the other guy has committed and will just announce that you are arrested and if you are a civilian you can do that,” he added.
Duterte said a policeman is justified to shoot the offender if his life is in danger.
“And if there is a resistance that would place your life in jeopardy, then by all means shoot and shoot him dead. That is my order,” he told the policemen led by Dela Rosa.
Dela Rosa, known by his moniker “Bato” (Rock), found his shoulder boards heavier as he received three more stars yesterday.
Dela Rosa was promoted from the rank of chief superintendent – or the equivalent of brigadier general in the military – to director general or full general in the military.
Duterte formally installed Dela Rosa as the 21st chief of the PNP.
The PNP leadership said there is no legal impediment in giving Dela Rosa the highest police rank as he takes over from Ricardo Marquez, who retired last Tuesday.
Duterte later told the military of his “zero tolerance” for illegal drugs.
“Where can you find a government where drug trafficking is being controlled inside the Bilibid prison? And it is like being slapped many times. And how it came about is really, well I would know, by neglect,” Duterte said in yesterday’s turnover of command for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) at Camp Aguinaldo.
Duterte made the campaign promise to eradicate crime and illegal drugs in the first six months of his presidency.
But in his speech during the PNP turnover ceremony, Duterte seemed to backtrack on his timetable.
“I might not be able to stop it on time, on the sixth month. But certainly after six months and one day, I hope this would all end,” he said.
Duterte during his campaign had mentioned the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) where he said thousands of drug suspects are detained for their illegal activities but still continue their illicit trade.
Duterte claimed one-fourth of the market for illegal drugs came from the NBP. He said he would have NBP burned to the ground to put an end to one source of illegal drugs in the country.
The President also criticized how the NBP appears to have been controlled by drug operators.
“How can it happen that when you inspect Bilibid, you have to ask permission from the idiot inside. This is my first day. I’m warning them there, they have the TVs there inside,” Duterte said, referring to the drug lords inside NBP.
“So, start counting the days…you are putting the government to shame. It’s like you slapped us many times… Start counting the hours. Do not count by the day, I do not want you counting the day,” Duterte warned.
He also cited as a problem the number of kidnap-for-ransom cases in the country.
“These are the things that we have to stop and that is why I said I would be harsh, not cruel, but I would be harsh and I have no tolerance for drugs. Zero. So, this is the fight that we have now. Those of you who are on vacation from the fields in Mindanao and in the Visayas… you might want just to join the hunt for them. We will eliminate the drug lords once and for all. We have to stop this practice in Bilibid,” Duterte stressed.
Duterte reiterated that he would risk everything to put an end to the drug problem.
“If you destroy my country, I will kill you. If you destroy our children, I will kill you. If I am asked by anybody, including the Commission on Human Rights, I do not know you,” Duterte said.
“I’m not threatening you. I’m just telling you that there is always a time. For us, the security forces, the Armed forces and the police, there is always a time. We can only take so much insult. We can only take so much... all that we could stomach. But me? I already feel like vomiting,” he added.
Duterte also warned scalawags in the police force that the end is coming.
“Let me tell you now, I will not run this country with a corrupt police. Mag-aaway tayo diyan (I will not accept that) and I do not want to demean you or to take anything from you,” he said.
Duterte said the PNP will have a major revamp.
He also said he would monitor the careers of all policemen, particularly those involved in illegal activities.
“I said do not mess with me. I am not challenging anybody but do not ever, you know, take it against me because I will really take it against you. You commit crimes then you are charged, you go AWOL, ” he said.
“You better resign, you have no more future in the police.”
Duterte also warned against corruption in the police force, mentioning the practice of converting gasoline allocations to cash and doctored liquidation reports.
“So beginning from now, I will not tolerate, zero tolerance, for abuses committed by the law enforcement agencies, including the National Bureau of Investigation,” he said.
“Do not do it! Ever, ever again.”
He directed all officers, from the regional director down to precinct commanders, not to use their posts in raising funds.
He also advised police officers against having their pictures taken with people suspected of criminal activities.
“Kindly, most kindly avoid the company. You know these drug lords and a budding criminal would always want to have their pictures taken with the mayor, with the commanders, with the military, with the police, just to build a reputation around him of invincibility,” he said. “That’s how it is done. I know, you know that I know, and we all know.”
Duterte also warned lawmen involved in illegal drugs.
“I know your life story. I know how you handle your work and I know how good you are. But I also know sometimes you can become a bad boy in the organization so beginning from now, I will not tolerate, zero tolerance for abuses committed by the law enforcement agencies,” Duterte said.
Barely 24 hours into office, Duterte could not avoid cursing during his two public appearances since he was sworn into office on Thursday.
Duterte was unable to stop himself from saying “p*** mo” in Filipino as he emphasized his frustration over how rampant drug use has affected the nation.
There were times that he also slowed down in the middle of his speech, obviously to prevent himself from cussing.
He also told policemen not to “bulls**t” him in his campaign against illegal drugs.
The President cursed during his speech at the Solidarity Dinner with the Poor held at the Delpan Sports Complex in Tondo, Manila the other night.
Duterte earned a few laughs when he merely nodded after the leader of the troops saluted after the welcoming honors at the PNP rites yesterday.
Nocturnal by nature, Duterte was able to attend early morning schedules – first during his own inauguration – and then the turnover ceremonies with the police. The events preceded command conferences with his top military and police officials.
During the campaign, the President explained that the media should not take his statements hook, line and sinker.
“You judge me, not by the cuss words, epithets and curses that you hear. Judge me for what I stand for, the values that I hold dear,” he was quoted as saying. – Giovanni Nilles, Cecille Suerte Felipe