'Kill drug traffickers, set fire to their homes'

Philippine police chief makes call to drug users in speech aired on TV

MANILA • The Philippines' police chief has called on drug users to kill traffickers and burn their homes, as he seeks to maintain momentum in President Rodrigo Duterte's controversial war on crime that has claimed 2,000 lives.

"Why don't you give them a visit, pour gasoline on their homes and set these on fire to register your anger," Mr Ronald Dela Rosa said in a speech aired on television yesterday. "They're all enjoying your money, money that destroyed your brain.

"You know who the drug lords are. Would you like to kill them? Go ahead. Killing them is allowed because you are the victim."

Mr Dela Rosa was speaking on Thursday to several hundred drug users who had surrendered in the central Philippines.

When asked if President Duterte supported Mr Dela Rosa's call to commit murder and arson, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella denied that was the police chief's intent.

"There is no such call. It's a passionate statement," Mr Abella told reporters yesterday without elaborating.

GO AHEAD AND KILL DRUG LORDS

Why don't you give them a visit, pour gasoline on their homes and set these on fire to register your anger. They're all enjoying your money, money that destroyed your brain. You know who the drug lords are. Would you like to kill them? Go ahead. Killing them is allowed because you are the victim.

PHILIPPINE POLICE CHIEF RONALD DELA ROSA, saying drug users should kill traffickers.

Mr Dela Rosa's comments followed Mr Duterte's own controversial directives that have sparked criticism from the United Nations and human rights groups.

Mr Duterte, 71, won May elections in a landslide on a promise to kill tens of thousands of suspected criminals in an unprecedented blitz that would eliminate illegal drugs in six months.

When he took office on June 30, he told a crowd in Manila: "If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself, as getting their parents to do it would be too painful."

Days after his election win, he also offered security officials bounties for the bodies of drug dealers.

UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard said such directives "amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law".

However Mr Dela Rosa and Mr Duterte have insisted they are working within the law, while their aides have dismissed some of their comments as "hyperbole" meant to scare drug traffickers.

Nevertheless, Mr Dela Rosa told a Senate inquiry this week that the confirmed number of people to have died in the drug war was 1,946.

He said police had shot dead 756 suspects and there were another 1,190 killings under investigation, but these were likely due to drug gangs murdering those who could implicate them.

"I admit many are dying, but our campaign, now, we have the momentum," he told the Senate.

AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2016, with the headline ''Kill drug traffickers, set fire to their homes''. Print Edition | Subscribe