President Rodrigo Duterte pledged to revert to his habit of roaming the streets to kill criminals after he steps down from Malacañang on 30 June, saying nobody could control his actions.
Duterte, during the Hugpong ng Pagbabago miting de avance at the San Pedro Square in Poblacion District in Davao City on Friday, vowed to continue his efforts to go after those behind the illegal drug trade, which he said destroys the fabric of Philippine society.
“Now that I won’t be president anymore, nobody can dictate what I do,” he said in vernacular.
“I will go riding on a motorcycle and roam around the — and I’ll search for drug peddlers, shoot them and kill them,” the President added.
The Chief Executive had earlier claimed that he had been roaming the streets of Davao City to look for criminals during his term as mayor, which drew criticism from human rights groups here and abroad.
In his speech, Duterte alleged once again that drug lords could evade prosecution by bribing authorities, including the judges.
The tough-talking Philippine president then took pride that he pushed to get rid of the narcotics trade when he was Davao mayor and after he won in the 2016 presidential race.
“I warned them not to destroy my city with drugs, especially my children, our children. If you do that here in Davao, I will really kill you,” Duterte said.
“When I became President, it was still my mantra. I told them do not destroy my country with drugs, don’t feed our children with drugs,” he added.
In an interview on Sonshine Media Network International that was also aired on Friday, he said the next administration should throw its full backing to the police and the military to get rid of communist insurgents.
Duterte said the police and speech should enjoy the full support of the chief executive just like what he did.
“But if you say go out and hunt them down, that is your duty as a law enforcement officer or a military, fighting the rebels,” he said.
The President, in the interview, also mentioned the necessity of the Anti-Terrorism Law in fighting communist rebellion.
A lawyer, former prosecutor, and longtime mayor, Duterte built an entire election campaign on an anti-crime agenda.
At its core: ending the illegal drug trade, crushing terrorists and communist rebels, and fighting corruption.
His anti-criminality drive was lauded by his most ardent supporters who have said they felt safer in the streets at night, but it displeased human rights groups here and abroad over alleged abuses.
Last year, the International Criminal Court’s pre-trial chamber allowed the Office of the Prosecutor to conduct a full-blown investigation into alleged human rights abuses committed by policemen during Duterte’s drug war.
The Philippine president, however, declared that he would not cooperate with the ICC probe by arguing that the country’s judicial system is capable of addressing such concerns.
Since Duterte assumed the highest government post in July 2016, more than 6,200 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations by the police, based on government records. Concerned groups pegged the fatalities at 20,000, including those killed by vigilantes.
Anti-drug operatives seized around P75.4-billion worth of illegal drugs, arrested more than 327,000 drug suspects, and destroyed over 1,000 drug dens and clandestine laboratories during Duterte’s drug war. — With a report from MJ BLANCAFLOR