|"Since Duterte entered office in June, more than 5,000 people have|
been killed in his war on drugs, some 2,000 at the hands of the
police and a further 3,000 by vigilante groups."
MANILA (Reuters) - Three minors were among seven people shot dead by suspected vigilantes in the Philippines at a house storing illegal narcotics, police said on Thursday, in the latest killings during a bloody and murky war on drugs.
Two unknown gunmen arrived on motorcycles and entered what police called a drugs den north of the capital Manila late on Wednesday. They opened fire on those inside, killing five instantly before fleeing, according to a police report, which said two other victims died before reaching the hospital.
Four of those killed were teenagers, two of them 15, one 16 and one 18. The killings come as the government of President Rodrigo Duterte prepares legislation to put to Congress to lower the age of criminal liability to nine from 15.
More than 6,100 people have been killed in the past six months during Duterte's controversial war on drugs, about a third in police operations and others classified as deaths under investigation. Police say killings during counter-narcotics operations were in self-defense.
The crackdown, the core plank of Duterte's election campaign, has been condemned internationally and has created tension between the Philippines and key allies and donors, among them the European Union, United States and United Nations. He has praised China for staying out of it.
Duterte has hit back with stunning rebukes and says he is willing to "rot in jail" to rid the Philippines of a drugs problem he initially vowed to solve within three to six months. He says the scourge was bigger than he first thought.
In a television interview on Thursday, Duterte said the drugs war would not end soon.
"Until the last pusher is out of the street... until the last drugs lord is killed, this drug campaign would continue to the last day of my term," he said.
Killings by vigilantes have occurred often and the authorities have been accused by rights groups of hiring assassins to kill suspects.
Duterte vehemently denies police are in cahoots with vigilantes and has said drugs gangs are killing rivals and silencing informants and it was taking place long before he took office.
Duterte’s warning to corrupt Filipinos: ‘I threw a kidnapper out a helicopter before’
IN yet another public confession of a summary execution, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday claimed he had once thrown a suspected kidnapper out of a helicopter mid-flight during his time as Davao city mayor.
His admission was a warning to corrupt officials who he threatened would suffer the same fate in the government’s anti-corruption drive, referring to how he dealt with criminals in the past, the Philippine Star reported.
“If you are corrupt I will fetch you with a helicopter and I will throw you out on the way to Manila,” Duterte was quoted as saying.
“I have done that before, why should I not do it again?”
Duterte made the threat against corrupt officials during a speech at the Camarines Sur provincial capitol following his visit Typhoon Nina-hit disaster areas. He said much like his war on drugs, the anti-corruption campaign will be the main focus during his six-year term.
According to the Philippine Star, the president described the incident where he pursued the kidnappers of a Chinese individual who was tortured despite receiving ransom for his release.
He said he had then ordered the pilot to fly at the right height before kicking the kidnapper off the helicopter so as to not cause a commotion from the body’s splatter.
|President Rodrigo Duterte|
The president, now facing international heat for his administration’s violent war on drugs, said he conducted the killings himself to set an example for the police under his watch.
“In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys (police) that if I can do it why can’t you,” he was quoted by the AFP as saying.
“And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”
The White House said boasts by Duterte that he used to ride around on his motorcycle in search of criminals to put down are “deeply troubling“, while the United Nations human rights commission has urged the Philippines to launch a murder investigation.
Duterte served as Davao City mayor for nearly two decades. His rule was tainted by hundreds of extrajudicial killings and most, if not all, of the murders have been linked to him by critics.
According to the allegations, the murders were carried out by the Davao Death Squad (DDS) that Duterte himself had formed.
In September, during the Senate inquiry into the extrajudicial killings, a man named Edgar Matobato came forward with a confession that rocked media headlines. In his testimony, Matobato admitted that he had been a hitman with the DDS and that he had killed more than 50 people.
He also linked Duterte to the killings, claiming the president had ordered his group of hitmen to pursue his rival supporters, bomb a mosque and kill Muslims, and set up an ambush for Senator Leila de Lima when she ordered a probe on the string of murders.
Since Duterte entered office in June, more than 5,000 people have been killed in his war on drugs, some 2,000 at the hands of the police and a further 3,000 by vigilante groups.
Source: Asian Correspondent, Staff, December 28, 2016
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