Kian Loyd delos Santos, 17, was killed by police last month in what activists characterize as an execution. On Friday, the Philippine government disbanded the entire police force in the metropolitan Manila city where the slaying occurred.
The government of President Rodrigo Duterte disbanded an entire city’s police force over the alleged execution of a teenager and threatened to declare martial law nationwide in response to increasing political pressure over the Philippine leader’s deadly war on drugs, reports the Wall Street Journal. The police department in Caloocan—part of metropolitan Manila—with more than 1,000 staff, will be retrained and deployed in other districts as a direct result of the 17-year-old’s death, Manila’s police chief, Oscar Albayalde, told local media on Friday. Thousands of suspected drug users have been killed since Duterte took office in June 2016. Police say 3,800 people had been killed by officers during operations as of the end of August, though other estimates place the number as high as 13,000 when vigilante killings are included.
Duterte last week called suspected police executions of suspects “sabotage” by those trying to discredit his drug war. Kian Loyd delos Santos was shot in the head last month by Caloocan police, a killing that stood out for its brutality and for video evidence suggesting police may have lied about his death. While the drug war remains generally popular among Filipinos, the killing was a turning point for many, activists say, and has helped to galvanize opposition. “It brought the issue of extrajudicial killings much closer,” said Teresita Quintos-Deles, a former government peace adviser, and “provided a platform for those who were already disturbed.”
President Rodrigo Duterte, whose deadly anti-drug campaign has faced intense international criticism, paused during a speech to tell a local police chief that it is his duty to “overcome the resistance” of any crime suspect. If he violently resists, Duterte said, “You are free to kill the idiots. That is my order to you.”
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told police on Monday they could kill “idiots” who violently resist arrest, two days after hundreds of people turned the funeral of a slain teenager into a protest against his deadly war on drugs, reports Reuters. Duterte broke off midway through a prepared speech at the Hero’s Cemetery on the outskirts of Manila and addressed impromptu comments to Jovie Espenido, the police chief of a town in the south where the mayor was killed in an anti-drugs raid. “Your duty requires you 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 told the chief.
Meanwhile, Duterte also met the parents of the schoolboy, 17-year-old Kian Loyd delos Santos, at the presidential palace in Manila on Monday, to assure them their son’s case would be handled fairly. Delos Santos’ mother, Lorenza, said she was confident the president would help quickly resolve the case. “He promised he would not allow those who have committed wrong to go unpunished,” the mother said in an interview posted online by Duterte’s communications office on a Facebook page after the meeting. Duterte unleashed the anti-drugs war after taking office in June last year following an election campaign in which he vowed to use deadly force to wipe out crime and drugs. Thousands of people have been killed.
Since new President Rodrigo Duterte launched the crackdown two months ago, about 2,000 suspected drug users and pushers have been killed — many by vigilantes. He promised a six-month campaign that would kill 100,000 drug users, with so many bodies dumped in Manila bay that the “fish will grow fat.”
Rodrigo Duterte. Photo by Keith Bacongco via Flickr
There are at least three ways to die in the Philippines’ war on drugs, says the Financial Times. The first is the botched police operation: resisting arrest, the suspect is gunned down by officers. Second, the vigilante killings: a masked duo, typically riding tandem on a motorcycle, pull up alongside the target for a point blank assassination. The killers are gone as quickly as they arrive. And then there are the mysteries — the bodies dumped down dark alleys, hog-tied, wrapped in plastic packaging and bearing a cardboard calling card: “I am a drug pusher.”
In this war, death comes fast and it comes frequently. Since new President Rodrigo Duterte launched the crackdown two months ago, about 2,000 suspected drug users and pushers have been killed — and the toll climbs every night. Duterte christened his presidency by promising a six-month campaign that would kill 100,000 drug users. So many bodies would be dumped in Manila bay that the “fish will grow fat”, he said. Two months on, the majority of the victims — typically poverty-stricken meth addicts or low-level peddlers — die at the hands of the vigilante killers, who have exploited the president’s campaign to settle scores and silence snitches. According to the latest police figures on Thursday, 1,051 have died at the hands of such death squads. The remaining 929 were killed in police operations, supposedly after resisting arrest. One local politician calls it a "state-inspired” policy.