MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on on Friday assailed criticism regarding his campaign against communist rebels and drug peddlers, asking rights defenders on "what's wrong" if he orders killings of resisting suspects.
Duterte brought up his oft-repeated allegation that communist leaders earn "billions" while their fighters go hungry while "killing for money or whatever." He said he offered "a place to stay" and livelihood for communist fighters who surrender to the government.
But he said he "ran afoul" of rights defenders over his order on what to do with rebels who refuse to surrender.
"What is wrong when I tell the policemen and the soldiers that if you see them in the mountains, carrying arms, shoot them? Do not wait that you are seen so that you have to confront them physically," he said in a speech before groups that volunteered as force multipliers for the police.
"If you see him carrying a gun in the mountains, that soldier, the NPA (New People's Army) will kill you, so ang order ko, patayin mo na."
(My order was, kill him.)
Duterte went on to claim that drug use, meanwhile, causes "so many dysfunctional families."
"That why I said, destroy my country, I will kill you. You destroy the youth of the land. So what’s wrong with that?" said the President.
"What divine law or divine right will prevent me from saying p****** *** mo papatayin kita (son of a w****, I will kill you). I am protecting my country," he said.
Video courtesy of RTVM
Philippine security forces say they have killed 6,117 suspected drug dealers because they fought back violently, but rights groups say some law enforcers have summarily executed drug suspects.
A prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week asked it to allow a full investigation into the killings in the anti-narcotics campaign that Duterte unleashed when he took office in 2016.
Duterte, who in March 2018 cancelled the Philippines' membership of the ICC's founding treaty, said he would not cooperate with the possible probe.
Under the ICC's statute, it has jurisdiction for crimes committed while a country was a member until a year after it sought to withdraw, in this case between 2016 and 2019, when the Philippines pullback became official.
Then ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had said last December there were reasonable grounds to believe crimes against humanity had been committed during Duterte's bloody anti-narcotics crackdown, whose death toll has stirred international outrage.
Despite concerns from the international community about the crackdown on drugs, Duterte remains popular at home and many Filipinos back his tough stance on crime.
His single 6-year term as president will end in June next year, and political analysts say he would want an ally to win the presidency to protect himself once he loses immunity.
– With a report from Reuters