MANILA (Reuters) – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday identified about 160 serving and former town mayors and executives, judges, and policemen allegedly linked to the illegal drugs trade, stepping up a name-and-shame campaign in his five week war on drugs.
Duterte read a list of those he said “destroy the country” during a visit to an army base in his hometown Davao city.
The list included two of the five police generals he identified last month as protectors of drug syndicates and a town major who has recently surrendered to police.
“You are the (law) enforcers and you allow yourselves to be used,” said Duterte, the former Davao city mayor who became president in a landslide election victory on May 9, vowing to wipe out drugs gangs and end crime.
Duterte did not say what he would do with the list. Hours later, two mayors on the list, one from Iloilo and another from Bulacan, turned themselves in to police, denying any involvement in the drug trade.
Last Friday, three mayors from the Muslim region on southern Mindanao island also gave themselves up to police to clear their names, promising to cooperate with law enforcement authorities.
On Friday, Duterte reiterated his “shoot-to-kill” order against drug dealers resisting arrest. He said he would be accountable for what has been a bloody anti-narcotics crackdown.
As many as 770 to 800 have been killed in police operations against illegal drugs since Duterte was sworn in as president on June 30, including more than 200 killed by vigilante groups.
He has repeatedly hit back at those raising the alarm over a surge in the killing of suspected drug traffickers, saying human rights should protect dignity, not let criminals destroy the country.
Last week, police commandos killed six bodyguards of a town mayor who had turned himself in over links to the illegal drug trade, signalling the shift in Duterte’s anti-drug war from street peddlers to officials.
(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz and Manuel Mogato; Editing by Michael Perry)