Politicians surrender after Philippines leader declares war on drugs

Two Philippine politicians surrendered to police on Friday after President Rodrigo Duterte warned government officials allegedly linked to the illegal drugs trade that they would be killed if they resist arrest.

The politicians – a mayor and a former mayor of towns in the southern province of Lanao del Sur – admitted they were previously involved in the illegal drugs trade, national police Director General Ronald dela Rosa said.

"They have decided to change and help in the anti-drug campaign," dela Rosa said after presenting the officials in a press conference at police headquarters in Manila. "Why run if you can help?"

Dela Rosa said he expects more to surrender after Duterte issued the warning to local officials despite criticism of the administration's anti-drug campaign that has left nearly 500 suspects killed in just one month.

"You sons of bitches, you never thought where this problem will lead? I will really kill you all. Have you seen what you have done to the Philippines? Then you expect me to forgive you?" the 71-year-old president said Friday.

"My order is to shoot to kill all of you," he told reporters after visiting a police officer who was wounded in a shootout during an anti-drug operation in Davao Del Sur province, near Davao City, where he used to be mayor.

"Soldiers, policemen, mayors - you will go first before the civilians," Duterte said.

Duterte has named five police generals, including two retired officials, and a mayor along with his son as people who are allegedly involved in drug trafficking.

The generals have turned themselves in for investigation, while the mayor has surrendered and denied any involvement in the illegal trade. The mayor, however, admitted that his son, who remains at large, was involved in drug trafficking.

Duterte's aides said the president would name dozens more officials in local government units that are involved in the illegal trade.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte's warning against narco-politicians was "congruent with government policy on maintaining and protecting peace and order in the nation."

The president "has given due and ample notice that the clear and present danger of drugs engulfing the nation will be addressed and law enforcers will neutralize those who resist or endanger the lives of arresting officers," he added in a statement.

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 drug trafficking.

Last update: Fri, 05/08/2016 - 12:34
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