Drug users not human, killing them justified: Duterte

Protesters mimicking an extrajudicial killing as police officers stand guard in front of the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City,near Manila. President Duterte won a landslide election victory in May, with a promise to
Protesters mimicking an extrajudicial killing as police officers stand guard in front of the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame, Quezon City,near Manila. President Duterte won a landslide election victory in May, with a promise to kill tens of thousands of suspected criminals to prevent the Philippines from becoming a narco-state.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has justified the large-scale killing of drug users during a crackdown on crime by suggesting the victims were not human.

About two thousand people have been killed since Mr Duterte was elected in May. He made the latest remarks about his bloody war on crime last Friday as he shrugged off the United Nations' concerns about human rights in his country.

"Crime against humanity? In the first place, I'd like to be frank with you. Are they humans? What is your definition of a human being?" he said during a visit to an army camp, according to official transcripts of his speech.

"Human rights? Use it properly in the right context if you have the brains," he added. "You cannot wage a war without killing," Mr Duterte said, adding that many drug users were beyond rehabilitation.

His remarks came after various UN officials, including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, condemned his apparent support for extra-judicial killings.

The UN special rapporteur on summary executions, Ms Agnes Callamard, earlier this month said his directives "amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law".

Mr Duterte's comments come after national police chief Ronald Dela Rosa on Friday urged drug users to kill their traffickers and burn their homes.

"Why don't you give them a visit, pour gasoline on their homes and set them on fire to register your anger," the police chief said. He later apologised for his remarks.

But Mr Duterte defended Mr Dela Rosa. "That's my style. He is following it," the President said.

Mr Duterte also taunted the UN.

He said: "They want me to go prison? Do those idiots think I will be captured alive. My God, we will be together in hell."

Earlier this week, Mr Dela Rosa told senators that over 750 people had been killed by police in anti-drug operations, while more than a thousand were slain by shadowy figures. Since then, even more people have been killed.

Mr Duterte, 71, won the May elections in a landslide, with a promise to kill tens of thousands of suspected criminals to prevent the Philippines from becoming a narco-state. He has vowed to protect policemen if they are charged for their role in the campaign.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'Drug users not human, killing them justified: Duterte'. Print Edition | Subscribe