Philippine police officers win first bounties for killing drug traffickers

Philippine authorities arrested a man on May 28, 2016, who allegedly sold illegal drugs in Manila earlier this month.
Philippine authorities arrested a man on May 28, 2016, who allegedly sold illegal drugs in Manila earlier this month.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (AFP) - A Philippine politician said he had given 155,000 pesos (S$4,577) to police officers for killing drug traffickers, the first such rewards since President-elect Rodrigo Duterte promoted bounties for slain criminals.

Mr Tomas Osmena, mayor-elect of Cebu, the nation's second-biggest city, offered similar rewards and announced on his Facebook page on Thursday night he had paid out 155,000 pesos to police officers who killed three men he said were drug traffickers.

Mr Osmena posted a series of comments celebrating the deaths of the three men, as he lashed out at the Commission on Human Rights, a constitutionally mandated body, for investigating the circumstances of the May 28 killings.

"CHR = Criminals. Have. Rights. (Even more than the real victims)," Mr Osmena wrote.

Mr Osmena described one of the slain suspects, Rowen Secretaria, as one of Cebu's biggest drug dealers. Mr Osmena did not return calls from AFP requesting comment, and in a previous interview refused to disclose where the money for the bounties would come from.

Mr Duterte won last month's elections in a landslide after pledging to wipe out crime by killing tens of thousands of criminals, and this week said he would pay bounties to law enforcement officers for dead drug traffickers.

Mr Osmena and Mr Duterte, like all winners in the national elections, will not take office until June 30. But Mr Duterte this week urged security forces to begin the war on crime immediately, calling on them to kill criminals.

Mr Duterte announced on Tuesday he would pay 3 million pesos to law enforcers for killing drug lords, with lesser amounts for lower-ranking people in drug syndicates.

However, Mr Osmena's rewards are the first confirmation of a payment being made for killing a suspect.

Mr Duterte's law-and-order campaign pledges hypnotised millions of Filipinos hoping for quick solutions to the nation's deep-rooted problems of crime and corruption.

However human rights groups and other critics voiced alarm that a Duterte presidency would lead to extrajudicial killings and a general breakdown in the rule of law.

A recent spate of drug suspects being killed has deepened those fears.

Police have confirmed killing at least 15 drug suspects, including Secretaria and his group, since May 24.

However, the police have insisted all of those deaths occurred because the suspects fought back, and that there were no illegal killings.