Philippine leader names 150 officials allegedly involved in drugs

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday identified more than 150 politicians, judges and members of law enforcement agencies allegedly involved in the illegal drugs trade.

Durterte ordered those on the list to surrender within 24 hours.

"Or else, I will order the entire armed forces of the Philippines and the national police to hunt you," he warned.

The newly elected president - whose nickname is "The Punisher" for his tough stance on crime - said that it was his "sworn duty" to name the officials, even though the accusations might not be true.

"It's very important for the people to know the state of things or conditions in this country," he said in a speech at a military camp in the southern city of Davao.

The list included eight judges, more than 50 incumbent and former mayors, vice mayors, governors and congressmen as well as 95 police officers, soldiers and jail guards.

Some of the politicians named denied being involved in the illegal trade and vowed to cooperate in order to clear their names.

"I can categorically say that I am not involved in the protection, trade and use of illegal drugs," said Jed Mabilog, mayor of the central city of Iloilo, one of those in the list.

"Since this is an urgent matter which endangers my personal security and that of my family, I request that the authorities conduct a speedy investigation, for I too want the truth and nothing but the truth to come out," he added.

Since Duterte took office on June 30, nearly 500 suspects have been killed in his administration's anti-drug campaign.

Most of them were killed by police allegedly because they fought back when arrested, while others were suspected to have been killed by vigilante groups or rival drug gangs.

Senator Leila De Lima, who has criticised the killings, warned that the name-and-shame campaign could result in more deaths since the president earlier issued a "shoot-on-sight" order against accused politicians who resist arrest.

"We are already in the slippery slope towards tyranny, without martial law, when we allow one man to be judge, jury and executioner. This is just the start," she said in a statement.

"The end game is just too terrible to imagine, when anyone can be accused and shot on sight based on a list that has the same legal value as a grocery list," she said.

Human rights groups have condemned the killings and urged Duterte to take steps to ensure that the rights of suspects are respected and that the rule of law is upheld, while cracking down on illegal drugs.

Last update: Sun, 07/08/2016 - 10:54
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