Phlippine Police Shoot Dead Drug Suspects, Raising Fears over President-Elect’s Rule

Rodrigo Duterte when he serves as mayor of Davao City
Rodrigo Duterte when he serves as mayor of Davao City

Manila, Philippines, 20 Sya’ban 1437/28 May 2016 (MINA) – Philippine police have shot dead eight drug suspects this week, authorities say, following repeated calls by president-elect Rodrigo Duterte for security forces to kill criminals.

Gunmen on motorcycles also murdered three petty criminals in Mr Duterte’s hometown of Davao, police said, deepening fears of mass extra-judicial killings once the controversial politician begins his six-year term on June 30.

Police insisted the eight drug suspects were killed lawfully, with the officers only firing back after being shot at in three separate raids.

One occurred in Manila, another near the capital, and the third in a small town in the northern Philippines.

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“There is no new policy to kill drug suspects,” Teresita Escamillan, police spokeswoman for Manilla, said.

“We have our rules of engagement and respect their human rights.”

When asked for comment, national police spokesman Wilben Mayor said all officers “appeared” to follow operational procedures on the use of force, based on the reports sent to headquarters in Manila.

 

Wild West and totally ungovernable?

Such deaths are not unusual in a nation where the police force has a track record of extra-judicial killings, and show the danger of the situation getting much worse under Mr Duterte, according to rights group Amnesty International.

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“We fear an erosion of the rule of law,” Wilnor Papa, campaign coordinator for Amnesty’s Philippine office, said.

“Once that happens, the Philippines will become a Wild West and become totally ungovernable.”

Mr Papa said there were other worrying signals of an imminent breakdown in the rule of law, citing the recent offer by the incoming mayor of the major city of Cebu of bounties to police officers who killed criminal suspects.

The controversial president may not live up to expectations, commentators say.
Extra-judicial killings by soldiers, police, insurgents and vigilante groups were already among the Philippines’ most significant human rights problems, the US State Department said in its annual global human rights report last year.

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“Concerns about impunity of national and local government officials, security force members, and powerful business and commercial figures persisted,” the report said.

Mr Duterte won this month’s elections in a landslide largely on an incendiary law-and-order platform headlined by a vow to wipe out crime within six months.

He pledged to give security forces shoot-to-kill orders, and vowed that tens of thousands of criminals would die. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)