The Duterte drug war has yielded close to 4,000 more self-confessed drug pushers and users who gave themselves up en masse on Saturday, July 9, 2016, in Tagum City, Davao del Norte, Philippines. It was the single biggest surrender so far since President Rodrigo Duterte took office on June 30, riding a campaign promise to wipe out criminality in three to six months.
According to ABS-CBN News, the estimated 4,000 suspects voluntarily packed an auditorium in Tagum City some 80 kilometers from Davao City, where Duterte served as mayor for seven terms, totaling more than 22 years. The self-confessed drug pushers and users signed their names on a “commitment wall” to dissociate themselves from the drug trade at the center of the new president’s sworn war. Though not detained, the suspects will reportedly be “monitored” by police.
Duterte also stepped up his drug war by naming five police generals as protectors of narcotics syndicates. On national television he detailed an elaborate network of drug operations to which the high-ranking police officers were linked. He’d previously warned tainted generals that if they did not quit their posts, he would shame them.
CNN reported that Duterte sprang a surprise on national television when he named the five police generals in his speech during the 69th anniversary of the Philippine Air Force on July 5. Three of the officers tagged in his ongoing drug war are generals Bernardo Diaz, Joel Pagdilao, and Edgardo Tinio, all listed on active duty. Two already retired are Vicente Loot, who is now mayor of Daanbantayan, and former Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo. The president made this pronouncement.
“At this time, I order them relieved from their assignments and report to the director general. I would like to talk to them but certainly I would expect the police commission to do their thing.”
According to ABC News Australia, more than 100 suspects have been killed in the seven weeks since President Duterte’s election triggered off his drug war. Regional Police Superintendent Romeo Galgo told reporters that the latest casualties came from a pre-dawn raid in the town of Matalam, about 900 kilometers south of Manila, resulting in eight “drug personalities” dead on July 9, including a woman. The raid also netted one suspect, three pistols, and four grenades.
After Duterte won the May 9 election by a landslide largely on a pledge to neutralize tens of thousands of drug dealers and other criminals, he asked the police and civilians to support his drug war by helping to kill perpetrators.
The Guardian quoted Duterte giving drug traffickers fair warning in front of a crowd of about 500 people after his oath-taking ceremony at the presidential palace. The unapologetic champion of the Filipino masses shared with Manila slum-dwellers his thoughts the evening of the inauguration.
“These sons of whores are destroying our children. I warn you, don’t go into that, even if you’re a policeman, because I will really kill you. If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.”
In the first two days of the Duterte presidency, at least 12 suspected drug traffickers and users were killed while more than 700 drug users surrendered in the cities of Taguig, Pasay, and San Juan. One of Duterte’s campaign promises was to do away with drug traffickers in an all-out war because they destroy families and the country’s future.
The body count starting Thursday night, June 30, the day Duterte assumed office, until Friday, July 1, consisted of eight drug suspects killed in Bulacan, two in Cavite, one in Manila, and another in Ilocos. The drug war at this point was clearly underway
The eight fatalities in Duterte’s drug war took place in the Bulacan towns of San Rafael, Hagonoy, San Ildefonso, Norzagaray and Guiguinto, and in Malolos City early July 1, according to Philstar. In Cavite, a drug suspect was killed in an encounter with the law in front of San Gabriel II elementary school at around 8:20 p.m. on Thursday, June 30, and a “top 7” drug suspect died in a running gun battle with police officers along Silang town at around 11:56 p.m. on the same day.
In Tondo, Manila, an unidentified man was found dead early July 1, with a lone gunshot wound at the back of his left ear, and a cardboard sign saying “Chinese drug lord ako” (I am a Chinese drug lord) slung around his neck. A top drug personality in Ilocos Norte was also slain the night of Duterte’s June 30 inauguration, in effect kicking off his drug war.
Duterte has made certain pronouncements to go in the history books.
On running for the presidency, he gave this iconic reason.
“I am here because I love my country, and I love the people of the Philippines.”
On the South China Sea dispute, he stated these words for posterity.
“There will never be an instance that we will surrender our right over Scarborough Shoal.”
As Duterte’s drug war ramps up, people are coming to realize that he is as good as his word.
[Photo by Handout/Getty Images]