K-I-L-L: Duterte spells out fate of drug lords

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – With the focus of the intensified drug campaign now shifting to drug lords, President Duterte has clearly – and literally – spelled out his way of dealing with them: KILL.

“It is spelled K-I-L-L. Bakit sabi mo kell? Bisaya eh (Why kell? It’s Visayan),” he said, drawing laughter from his audience in Buluan in Maguindanao where he inspected a power plant operated by Green Earth Corp. last Friday.

 “Remember that I have always been consistent in my statements. During the campaign: Do not destroy my country because I will kill you. Can’t you understand that?” he said, addressing the drug lords.

“Do not destroy the young, our children, because I will kill you,” he repeated.

In the audience were local executives led by Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and Cabinet officials including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

The Chief Executive’s renewed warning came amid criticism from several quarters that his administration’s anti-drug campaign has so far targeted only small-time drug pushers and peddlers.

Citing intelligence reports, Duterte said the “big fishes” have been identified but many are now abroad. He did not say if they fled the country out of fear or are just controlling their illegal trade from abroad.

He admitted it’s not easy to eliminate drug lords as many of them have become billionaires enjoying protection from officials and law enforcers.

“I have to invade a country to arrest the drug lords. They’re billionaires, you can’t easily get them,” Duterte said.

He did not say which countries host drug lords with operations in the Philippines, although in recent speeches he had said he wanted to ask China why most drug lords here were Chinese.

The Chinese government would later issue a statement denying it was tolerating citizens involved in drugs. It also voiced its is willingness to cooperate with the Duterte administration in addressing the drug menace.

The President said it was irritating that the government was getting criticized for not getting the so-called big fish, considering that such criticisms usually came from people who were clueless about the real picture.

“I just can’t tell them, ‘come on I’ll show you something, I’ll let you get inside the intelligence room and see everything,’” he said.

Duterte ranted about how some critics were downplaying the impact of the administration’s anti-drug campaign, noting how drug users as well as personalities like businessman Peter Lim, have come forward to submit themselves to government investigation. 

At latest count, the President said the numbers have reached around 92,000 surrenderees all over the country.

“Big fish, big fish, they’re not here, they’re home. It’s really infuriating. That’s why I say I intend to talk to China,” he said.

He cited news reports about the discovery of a drugs laboratory in a ship manned by Chinese. “They don’t cook (drugs) here anymore. If they get caught doing so if ever, they get killed,” he said in Filipino.

He also chided those who demand due process and a stop to extrajudicial killings.

“They’re pretending to be wise but they’re not. That is the problem with the Filipino, they think they’re bright even if they’re not. What big fish? Go find them in the market,” he said.

Duterte said his administration is addressing the drug menace carefully, first by targeting the users, the runners, pushers and then going after the suppliers.

A lawyer and former city prosecutor, Duterte said due process – especially for drug offenders – is not his concern but the concern of the courts.

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