Philippines' Duterte backs police in 'drug' mayor killings

 02 Aug 2017 - 22:44

Philippines' Duterte backs police in 'drug' mayor killings
Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog (Facebook)

AFP

Manila:  Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday defended a police raid that killed a mayor whom he had linked to narcotics trafficking along with 14 others.

Duterte has repeatedly defended police prosecuting his deadly war on drugs while singling out officials as "narco-politicians". Three mayors have been shot dead after he accused them of involvement in the drug trade.

Rights groups and some lawmakers have called for an investigation into the killing of Reynaldo Parojinog, mayor of the southern city of Ozamiz on Mindanao island, and the 14 others in a raid on his home Sunday.

Duterte rejected criticism of the raid, including why it was conducted at night.

"The police can go there any time convenient for them to arrest (him). And I will stand by the police," Duterte said in a speech.

"I will answer for it. I will say I ordered it. Why go after the police? Who would be stupid enough to carry a (drug) business in daylight?"

Duterte, 72, has launched an unprecedented crackdown on crime that is popular with many Filipinos but has drawn international criticism.

Since he took office just over a year ago, police have reported killing nearly 3,200 people in the drug war. More than 2,000 other people have been killed in drug-related crimes, according to police data.

Rights groups say Duterte may be overseeing a crime against humanity.

Duterte named Parojinog last year as being among mayors, policemen and judges who were involved in drug trafficking.

In Sunday's raid, police said a firefight occurred after the Parojinogs shot at them -- a claim denied by the family's camp. None of the officers were hurt, apart from one who sustained a minor injury.

Several lawmakers and Human Rights Watch questioned the circumstances surrounding the raid, with top Duterte critic Senator Leila De Lima calling it a "massacre".

On Wednesday Duterte said he had met mayors in the presidential palace to warn them to stop drug trafficking.

Duterte hinted at the Parojinogs' reputation of allegedly leading a gang responsible for bank robberies.

"They were running the city as if it was a feudal state of the family," he said.

Duterte also lashed out at critics, including his predecessor Benigno Aquino who had questioned the effectiveness of his drug war.

"Go ahead and enter the drug trade, PNoy, and I will cut off your head," Duterte said, using Aquino's nickname.