President Rodrigo Duterte dared human rights advocates late Thursday to take him to court over the government’s bloody anti-drug war as he ordered newly elected barangay captains to do their duty to fight illegal drugs in their respective communities.
In a speech during an oath-taking ceremony for newly elected barangay leaders, Duterte told human rights groups to file charges against him, saying he would gladly go to prison.
“There’s no problem with me, anyway I’m old,” he said in Filipino. “In a few years time, I will begin to deteriorate and maybe go ahead of you.”
The President also reiterated his proposal to arm barangay officials to protect them against criminals and even urged them to shoot suspected drug dealers if their lives were in danger.
“I don’t care about human rights, you better believe me,” he told the 4,018 newly elected punong barangays in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon).
Duterte’s centerpiece anti-crime drive focused on an ambitious campaign promise to end the widespread drugs problem before his term ends has left more than 4,000 drug suspects dead, many of them either in firefights with police or under suspect circumstances.
The President also lamented that some mayors and barangay leaders are involved in the illegal drug trade.
“Many were using shabu, both poor and wealthy. The rich [are] using cocaine. Ecstasy is pricey. Now these cocaine, cannabis, marijuana are organic. Shabu is a deadly mix of chemicals. Toxic…. Shabu use over a period of six months to one year would cause aggressive and violent, bizarre behavior,” Duterte said.
He told the barangay captains they were the “mayors” of their small communities.
“The barangay is so small, how can drugs get into your communities?” he said in Filipino.
Duterte said he wanted to arm barangay captains on a selective basis and said the police would still be in charge of actual operations.
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