Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte plans to name more than two dozen government officials allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade, an adviser said, even as one of his critics called for a Senate probe of the crackdown.
“My God, you will be shocked,” Salvador Panelo, the president’s legal adviser, told reporters Tuesday in Manila, adding there were prominent names on the list. He said Duterte would name all 27 local politicians shortly.
Duterte, the former mayor of Davao City, won the presidency in a landslide partly on his tough talk against crime, corruption and vice. Even on the campaign trail he warned the blitz would be bloody and without mercy. There’s no formal polling since he took office on the popularity of his war on drugs, but he has won plaudits among his supporters on social media.
The national police said 402 people had been killed in the first month after the crackdown started July 1, the day after Duterte took office. More than 5,400 were arrested and 565,805 surrendered. The police count doesn’t include alleged suspects killed by unidentified assailants.
Duterte named five police generals accused of involvement in illegal drugs last month, three of them on active duty. All five deny wrongdoing. The mayor of Albuera town in Leyte province, Rolando Espinosa, surrendered to police on Tuesday, saying in a televised briefing that his son -- who is at large -- was involved in the drugs trade.
Inmates sleep on the ground of an open basketball court inside the Quezon City jail in Manila on July 21. Photo: AFP
The campaign has drawn condemnation from some quarters, with Human Rights Watch calling the surge in killings unacceptable and a failure to protect human rights. Senator Leila de Lima, a former chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, said Tuesday in a televised speech she filed a resolution seeking a Senate probe of the drug-related killings.
“Mr. President, impunity once unleashed has no boundaries,” De Lima said. “We cannot wage the war against drugs with blood. We will only be trading drug addiction with another more malevolent kind of addiction. This is the compulsion for more killing, killings that have now included the innocent.”
De Lima, who investigated Duterte over extra-judicial killings when he was mayor, decried what she said was “propaganda” on social media that portrayed her as a protector of criminals. She said videos and a photo that circulated purportedly showing her socializing with alleged drug lords mistakenly identified a guest at her birthday party as a convicted felon.