Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has given the green light to the police to kill what he called the “idiots” who resist arrest, just two days after hundreds of people protested against his deadly war on drugs.
“Your duty requires you (police forces) to overcome the resistance of the person you are arresting… (if) he resists, and it is a violent one… you are free to kill the idiots, that is my order to you,” Duterte said during a Monday speech at the Hero’s Cemetery on the outskirts of Manila.
Duterte stressed that “murder and homicide and unlawful killings” were not allowed, urging the police to maintain the rule of law while carrying out their duties.
The comments come two days after hundreds of people turned the funeral ceremony for 17-year-old Kian Delos Santos, killed by the police during the so-called war on narcotics, into a protest against Duterte.
Duterte met the parents of the schoolboy at the presidential palace in Manila on Monday, but officials provided no immediate details about the meeting.
Duterte, 72, launched an unprecedented crackdown on illegal narcotics after winning the presidency last year on a promise to kill tens of thousands of criminals.
Over the past 14 months, police have confirmed killing more than 3,500 people — insisting they acted in self-defense.
More than 2,000 other people have been killed in drug-related crimes and thousands more murdered in unexplained circumstances, according to police data.
The numbers saw a sudden increase in mid-August, with Duterte praising officers who shot dead 32 people in a single province as he urged for more.
Following Duterte’s call, at least 44 people were killed in various cities, including 17-year-old delos Santos whose death on August 17 sparked a national furor.
Relatives of delos Santos released CCTV footage showing two police officers dragging the boy to a dark, trash-filled alley in northern Manila before shooting him in the head.
Police say they acted in self defense after the teenager opened fire on them. The government has described the killing of delos Santos as an “isolated” case.
On August 20, Duterte’s spokesman said the government would investigate the large number of deaths but added the president would “vigorously pursue” his drug war.