'Kill' corrupt cops
The ultra-strict and unpredictable Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been at it again. The man who has allegedly been behind hundreds and thousands of killings in curbing drug trade has found a new target. Dozens of Philippines National Police (PNP) officers who are under investigation for crimes. After hauling 102 officers to the Malacañang, the Philippines Presidential Palace, the firebrand leader called them, "useless and a menace to society,". Many of these officers are under investigation for serious crimes including rape, kidnapping, extortion and involvement in the drug trade. Duterte warned that if they continued their criminal acts, he would have them killed. The over-the-top threats are in keeping with the president's hyperbolic style. He ordered the ranks be cleared of "graft and corruption."
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. Interestingly, in March, he ordered the 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? Who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country? You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs." Dressing down in his rant to police officers, Duterte threatened that the media would only cover their killings briefly, then forget about them. He added that he would not let "due process" or human rights get in the way of punishing the accused dirty cops. "If these fellows 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. 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 did not understand how rogue elements had entered the police, an institution created to serve the public. Trying to set a precedent for his contemporaries, 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. It remains to be seen whether such scare tactics boost police morale or initiate reforms.