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‘Plenty’ more to die in drug war

Many more will be killed before the end of the campaign against illegal drugs, President Duterte said yesterday of his war on drugs that has claimed about 2,400 lives since he took office two months ago. AP/Bullit Marquez, file photo

MANILA, Philippines - Many more will be killed before the end of the campaign against illegal drugs, President Duterte said yesterday of his war on drugs that has claimed about 2,400 lives since he took office two months ago.

Duterte will meet US President Barack Obama at a regional summit in Laos today, and he has made it clear he will take no lecture on human rights from his American  counterpart.

“Plenty will be killed until the last pusher is out of the streets. Until the (last) drug manufacturer is killed, we will continue,” Duterte told reporters before leaving for Laos.

Police say about 900 of those killed died in police operations, and the rest were “deaths under investigation,” a term human rights activists say is a euphemism for vigilante and extrajudicial killings.

Duterte, a former crime-busting mayor of southern Davao city, won the presidency in May promising to suppress crime and wipe out drugs and drug dealers.

While his campaign has won popular support, the killings have alarmed rights groups and brought expressions of concern from the United States, a former colonial power and a close Philippine ally, and the United Nations.

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“I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony,” Duterte said when asked about his meeting with Obama.

“Who is he to confront me? As a matter of fact, America has one too many to answer for,” he said. “Everybody has a terrible record of extrajudicial killings.”

He earlier lambasted the United Nations after it criticized the surge in killings and he turned down a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the summit in Laos.

No US lapdog

Yesterday, the President criticized the US anew and demanded an apology for the slaughter of about 600,000 Moros during the American occupation in the country.

He said he was not a lapdog of the US when asked by reporters about his talking points on extrajudicial killings before leaving for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

“The Philippines is not a vassal state, we have long ceased as colony of the United States. I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said.

He said he does not want to pick a quarrel with Obama but he should also look in his own backyard on human rights and summary killings.

The ASEAN summit marks the Philippine President’s debut on the international stage.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Duterte would push for a drug-free region and a binding code of conduct for South China Sea claimants. 

Duterte arrived last night in Laos on a chartered Philippine Airlines flight. He and Obama are set to meet around 5 p.m. (Philippine time) today, a schedule released by Malacañang showed. – Christina Mendez, Alexis Romero

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