MANILA - It is no surprise that “malignant elements” would try to rouse anger against the administration’s war on drugs, Malacañang said Saturday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella made this statement in the wake of President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks Friday that recent teen deaths were attempts to "sabotage" government's anti-drug campaign.
Abella made reference to "powerful narco-politicians and deep pocketed drug lords" who have been affected the administration's fierce stance against narcotics.
“It should not come as a surprise that these malignant elements (narco-politicians and drug lords) would conspire to sabotage the President's campaign to rid the Philippines of illegal drugs and criminality, the centerpiece program of the administration, to succeed; which may include creating scenarios stoking public anger against the government,” Abella said.
"This is why Filipinos should view reports of killings apparently targeting the youth with suspicion and urgency,” Abella said.
In a speech in Digos City, Duterte addressed Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa and said he should look into recent teen deaths as possible sabotage.
“Silipin mong mabuti kasi sinasabotahe kayo. Sinasadya ‘yan. Ang pulis, mag baril ‘yan, if at all… pero hindi nakabalot ng…that is not the job of the police,” he said, in reference to one of the victims found with his head wrapped in tape.
Dela Rosa had earlier said drug lords may be behind vigilante slays as the anti-drug campaign drew international condemnation.
The recent killings of Kian Loyd Delos Santos, 17, Carl Angelo Arnaiz, 19, and Reynaldo de Guzman 14, in suspicious circumstances have sparked public outrage and led to renewed calls to end the bloody drug war.
Delos Santos and Arnaiz were killed in separate incidents in Caloocan City after they allegedly resisted pursuing police. Delos Santos, a 12th grader, was shot dead in an anti-drug operation on Aug. 16 while Arnaiz was killed after he allegedly robbed a taxi driver on Aug. 18.
Forensic analysis found a suspicious pattern in the killings, including indications that they were shot when already on the ground.
Circumstances surrounding the death of De Guzman, Arnaiz's companion when he left his Cainta, Rizal home on Aug. 17, remain unclear. He was found Wednesday in Nueva Ecija with multiple stab wounds, his head wrapped in packing tape.