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Citizens have 'moral obligation' to arrest criminals, says Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte assures the safety of Sen. Leila De Lima while in custody of the Philippine National Police at their headquarters in Camp Crame during a media interview in Malacañan on Feb. 27, 2017. Ace Morandante/Presidential Photo
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said citizens can arrest and kill criminals.
 
"An ordinary citizen of this country can make valid arrest," he said.
 
He said it is the moral and legal obligation of a citizen to arrest someone who is about to, or is in the act of committing a crime. The president also threatened to kill a criminal who fights back.
 
"Even if I am a civilian Rodrigo Duterte and if I have the arms, I will place you under arrest. And if you fight it out with me, I will kill you," Duterte said.
 
"Kung may baril ka diyan with a valid permit and current license tapos you will commit a crime in my presence or about to be raped, I don't just have to look at you and watch you being raped," he added.
 
Various rights agencies such as the Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have reprimanded Duterte for statements which encourage summary killings of suspected criminals.
 
Even during his presidential campaign, Duterte had repeatedly urged law enforcement agencies and the public to kill suspected drug users and traffickers who refuse to surrender.
 
United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Agnes Callamard said in August last year that such directives "are irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law."
 
"It is effectively a license to kill," she added.
 
The Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, said in July last year that as long as the president serves as the "cheerleader" for summary killings of criminal suspects, the "fundamental right to life of all Filipinos is at risk from state-sanctioned murder."
 
When Duterte was asked if his statement could become a smoke screen for people to kill, he did not have a clear answer.
 
Under the law, a police officer or a private person can make an arrest without a warrant under three conditions.
 
First, when the person has committed, is actually committing or is attempting to commit a crime in his or her presence.
 
When there is probable cause to believe, based on knowledge of facts or circumstances, that a person committed the crime.
 
Lastly, if the person is a prisoner who escaped.
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