'Go to hell,' Duterte tells drug war critics

AFP
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told human rights groups criticising his deadly anti-drug war to "go to hell" after ordering police back to the frontlines of the crackdown.
AFP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday told human rights groups criticising his deadly anti-drug war to “go to hell” after ordering police back to the frontlines of the crackdown.

Duterte had removed the police less than two months ago in response to rising opposition to the campaign. But his spokesman said he was now reinstating them because drug crimes had risen in their absence.

Duterte dismissed criticism over the thousands of people killed in the drug war as he said the Philippines had turned into a “narco-state.”

“You can go to hell, all of you,” Duterte said in reference to human rights groups, Catholic bishops and priests who have urged an end to the killings.

“I do not want Filipinos to be turned into fools during my time. You can do that at any other time but not during my time, during my watch.”

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte signed an order on Tuesday reinstating the police to the drug war because there had been a “public clamour” for their return.

“There has been a notable resurgence in illegal drug activities and crimes committed,” Roque said as he read the order.

Duterte, 72, was elected last year on a promise to eradicate drugs from society by launching an unprecedented campaign. Since he took office, police have reported killing about 4,000 people in the crackdown. 

Another 2,290 have been murdered in drug-related crimes, while thousands of other deaths remain unsolved, according to government data. Many Filipinos continue to support the crackdown and believe Duterte is making society safer.

But in October he announced that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency would replace the police in the drug war following mounting public opposition, including rare street protests, that were triggered by officers’ alleged murder of three teenagers.

Duterte said later he had removed police from the drug war “in deference” to critics.

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