'I don't care about human rights,' Duterte says, urging cops to 'shoot first'

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
'I don't care about human rights,' Duterte says, urging cops to 'shoot first'
File photo shows people lighting candles to protest drug war killings.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman, File

MANILA, Philippines — It's been made clear countless times  in the past: the president does not care about human rights, despite claiming to abide by the 1987 Constitution.   

At a speech in Cavite on Thursday at an event celebrating the destruction of P7 billion worth of narcotics,  President Rodrigo Duterte made the statement as explicitly as he could, urging officers of the law to shoot first, and worry about human rights later. 

"All addicts have guns. If there's even a hint  of wrongdoing,  any overt act, even if you don't see a gun, just go ahead and shoot him," he said in Filipino. "You should go first, because you might be shot. Shoot him first, because he will really draw his gun on you, and you will die."

"Human rights, you are preoccupied with the lives of the criminals and drug pushers. As mayor and as president, I have to protect every man, woma, and child from the dangers of drugs. The game is killing...I say to the human rights, I don't give a shit with you. My order is still the same. Because I am angry," he added. 

Duterte has often slammed the criticisms of rights groups, and statements encouraging police to shoot first are nothing new. Earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, he also urged law enforcement personnel to "shoot dead" any quarantine violators, especially those linked to left-leaning groups critical of his administration. 

READ: 'Grave violations': Bachelet presents report on Philippines to UN rights council

According to groups from the United Nations to local rights monitors, cops under the Duterte administration have been handed "near-impunity" by the president's pronouncements and are only further emboldened to carry out the summary executions linked to the administration's flagship campaign against illegal narcotics. 

Even worse, the findings of an earlier UN report have suggested that the planting of evidence by police officers was a common practice.

Both local and international organizations have said that the nightly killings only increased amid the coronavirus-induced lockdowns, a claim corroborated by the government's own data.

Overall, police figures acknowledge just 8,000 "drug personalities" slain in official operations where police claim that only suspects who fought back were killed, though rights groups say the number may be as high as 30,000 deaths since Duterte's "war" began in 2016. 

"For me, I don't care about human rights...I will assume full legal responsibility. I will face those human rights, not you (enforcers)," Duterte said. 

"As far as you can go in accordance to the law, if you suspect that you might be in danger, just kill them."

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