Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to kill dozens of Philippines National Police (PNP) officers who are under investigation for crimes in an expletive-laden rant targeting criminality in the force.
After hauling 102 officers to the Malacañang – the Philippines Presidential Palace – Tuesday, the firebrand leader unloaded on them, calling them “useless… (and) a menace to society,” CNN affiliate CNN Philippines reported.
Many of the officers presented to Duterte are under investigation for serious crimes including rape, kidnapping, extortion and involvement in the drug trade. Others are accused of administrative lapses, like being absent without leave and failing to appear for court duties.
Duterte warned the officers that if they continued their criminal acts, he’d have them killed.
“Like what you do, it’s easy to kill a person. Just follow him, fire at his back, then walk away calmly,” he said, according to CNN Philippines’ translation.
The over-the-top threats are in keeping with the president’s hyperbolic style.
Over a year ago Duterte called for a total overhaul of the force in the wake of the alleged brutal killing of a South Korean businessman by corrupt police officials.
“Cleanse your ranks. Review their cases. Give me a list of who the scalawags are,” Duterte said.
He extended the purge at the beginning of 2018, according to CNN Philippines, ordering the ranks be cleared of “graft and corruption.”
Fulfilling election promises
Duterte came to power in June 2016 after a resounding election victory based on a promise to rid the government of corruption and the country of drugs.
He wasted no time in issuing orders to police officers to round up suspected drug dealers. Thousands of alleged offenders were subsequently killed by cops and vigilantes in a purge that drew international condemnation.
Soon after launching the operation, Duterte said,“If we can only kill 32 every day, maybe we can fix what ails this country,” according to a translation by CNN affiliate CNN Philippines.
In March, the president ordered his police officers not to cooperate with United Nations human rights investigators and offered a crass warning to those conducting the probe.
“You’re investigating us? Fact finding? Sorry, do not f*** with me,” Duterte said Thursday, at an event before police officers and members of the military in his hometown of Davao City.
“Who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country? You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs.”
Rodrigo Duterte's most controversial comments
In his rant to police officers Tuesday, Duterte threatened that the media would only cover their killings briefly, then forget about them.
“It’s just one newspaper article, one instance of shouting,” he said. “The noise on TV, that’s just two, three days then it’s over. It’s only that. Media? They only go so far. Publication, a headline then nothing. You’re history.”
He added that he wouldn’t let “due process” or human rights get in the way of punishing the accused dirty cops. “If these bastards die, don’t come running to us shouting ‘human rights, human rights, due process.’ I’ve been warning you.”
Fuming, he said that the appearance of other officials was the only thing preventing him from striking the accused officers.
“You animals, why are you here? You are like… bastards looking like dogs. You know, it’s a good thing there are a lot of people here, there are officials present – or else, I would be hitting you.”
Duterte said that he had commissioned an official task force to investigate dirty cops, particularly those involved in the drug trade, a statement from the Philippines Presidential Communication team reported. He added that he didn’t understand how rogue elements had entered the police, an institution created to serve the public.
He then left the accused – some of whom, like the three Taguig City police officers accused of running a kidnapping ring, in cuffs – to stand in misery outside the palace while he conducted a four-hour, joint PNP-Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) press conference.
“Stay there and starve,” he shouted at the cowed officers as he left them.