PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that the administration's relentless campaign against illegal drugs is "a matter of life and death."
Amid calls to end the spate of killings of drug suspects in the war on drugs, Duterte reiterated his vow to wage a brutal drug crackdown.
The President said there was nothing wrong on his repeated pronouncements that a person's life is the expiation for his decision to proceed with illicit drug transactions despite his warning to stop drug-related activities.
"They keep on hankering on my statement that, 'If you destroy my country, I will kill you.' That is a very legitimate statement of a leader of a nation. And when I say that I will kill you if you destroy the young of this country, nobody can argue with that statement, even if I face Jesus Christ," Duterte said before the new star-rank police officers.
"I keep on saying, 'Do not ruin the lives of Filipinos.' These stupid, since they are already rich, do not understand that it (drug war) is really a fight for life. This fight, it's a matter of life and death," he added.
Duterte's drug war has earned criticisms anew following the simultaneous "one-time-big-time" operations conducted by police officers in Bulacan, Manila, and Camanava (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela) area in mid-August that claimed the lives of more than a hundred suspected drug offenders.
The wide-ranging drug raids that resulted in the killing of 17-year-old Kian Lloyd Delos Santos drew flak from the local and foreign human rights advocates, including United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard.
Callamard earlier said that Delos Santos, who was gunned down by police despite claim that he did not resist arrest, must be the "last" drug-related death in Duterte's war on drugs.
The Chief Executive, however, said that he could not promise that no one could be killed in his brutal crackdown on narcotics sale.
Duterte then reassured the policemen that they would get his support and trust, as long as they properly follow his orders.
He also reminded them to "make no mistake," saying he would not absolve any erring cops who commit crimes.
"I repeat, do not be afraid on human rights [who threatens to file] charges. Just do your job. Follow the rules of engagement, follow the rules of performance of duty, and follow the rules of self-defense and I will go to prison for you," Duterte said.
"But make no mistake: this government will never tolerate any abuse of power, corruption and illegal activities in the PNP and the entire bureaucracy," he added. (SunStar Philippines)