In the weeks since Roderigo Duterte was sworn in as President of the Philippines, police and vigilantes have killed almost 1800 people who may or may not have been connected to the drug trade. Duterte campaigned on a pledge to get tough on crime, doubled down in his inaugural address, and vows to continue. We have more from Neal Conan in the Pacific News Minute.
As mayor of the southern city of Davao, Roderigo Duterte boasted of the hundreds of suspects there killed by police and vigilantes. As a candidate, he invited the public to join in "If they are there in your neighborhood, feel free to call us, the police," he said "or do it yourself if you have the gun...I will give you a medal." More than that, he offered bounties. "For a drug lord, five million pesos if he is dead," he said...that's about a hundred and fifty thousand dollars...then he added, "If he is alive, only 4,999 million." In a rambling, two hour midnight news conference on Sunday, he acknowledged the violence that's left 1,779 in his seven weeks in office, "I admit many are dying," he said, "but our campaign now...we have momentum."
Human rights groups in the Philippines say that hundreds of those killed had no connection with the drug trade and that many were shot execution style; two bullets in the back of the head.
At his Sunday news conference, Duterte attacked those who criticize the extrajudicial killings...of the United States; he demanded to know why police there kill black people while they are on the ground. "Answer that question," he said, "because even if it's just one or two, it is still human rights violations." And the UN? He sneered, "What have you done for the world, Mr. United Nations?" And pointed to victims of the civil war in Syria. Duterte then threatened to pull out of the UN; his foreign minister later said that would not happen.