Drug Lords Threaten To Kill Philippines President Over Vigilante Statements

By McCarton Ackerman 06/14/16

The assassination threats are in response to the president-elect offering five million pesos to anyone who killed a drug dealer.

Drug Lords Threaten To Kill Philippines President Over Vigilante Statements
Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte Photo Rappler/YouTube

After Philippines President-elect Rodrigo Duterte declared he would give a major financial reward to any citizen who killed a drug dealer, gang lords in the country have reportedly raised a £300,000 ($426,400) bounty for Duterte’s murder.

Duterte won the presidential election last month and isn’t scheduled to take office until June 30, but his heavy anti-crime initiatives have already sparked controversy in the country. Daily Mail reported that Duterte’s newly appointed police chief, Ronald Dela Rosa, confirmed that incarcerated drug lords in the country’s national jail have already raised the six-figure sum for the assassination. However, he didn’t appear to be concerned by this.

“I tell them, ‘Come on down. Bring it on,’” said Dela Rosa. “When we assume office on June 30, let’s see if you can still pay for our assassination.”

Duterte promised throughout his campaign to ensure that police and military officials would deal with drug dealers, but raised eyebrows recently by also encouraging the public to take drastic measures. He offered five million pesos ($107,000) for anyone who killed a drug lord, ignoring warnings from human rights groups about the dangers of this policy. Other officials in the country have also followed his example; Tomas Osmena, mayor of the city of Cebu, admitted to paying local police more than $3,000 for killing drug traffickers.

“If they are there in your neighborhood, feel free to call us, the police, or do it yourself if you have the gun. You have my support,” said Duterte in a June 4 nationally televised address. “If he fights and fights to the death, you can kill him. I will give you a medal.”

But while Duterte is vehemently against drug trafficking and drug use, he’s also opposed to drug rehab. He has stated that addicts cannot be rehabilitated and vowed that “if you are involved in drugs, I will kill you. You son of a whore, I will really kill you.”

The Philippines has already established itself as one of last places anyone would want to be busted for drugs, with punishments including decades-long jail sentences. The death penalty was suspended in 2006, but Duterte is expected to try and bring it back as president. And once reinstated, the death penalty would without a doubt apply to drug crimes. Duterte declared on the campaign trail this year that five criminals should be killed each week and that the fish in Manila Bay would grow fat on the bodies of “pushers” dumped there.

Despite this, the United Nations reported in 2012 that the country had the highest rates of methamphetamine, or “shabu” use, out of anywhere in East Asia. 

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.