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The Philippine Government Claims That After Killing 400 Drug Dealers, Half-a-Million Turned Themselves In

The Philippine Government Claims That After Killing 400 Drug Dealers, Half-a-Million Turned Themselves In

Recently elected Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s aggressive war on drugs has killed more than 400 people in the past month. And on Friday morning, furious after visiting a town where suspected drug dealers shot a police chief in the chest, Duterte told reporters that he had given police orders to shoot to kill when they come across anyone they believe to be involved in drug trade.

“I’ll really have you killed,” he said Friday. “My order is shoot to kill you. I don’t care about human rights, you better believe me.”

Activists have urged Duterte to scale back his countrywide hunt for drug dealers in order to give suspects an opportunity for due process and a fair trial before they are executed on the country’s streets. But Duterte has not relented.

He promised on the campaign trail that he would halt the drug trade after six months, and in addition to the 400 already killed, another 4,400 have been arrested.

And, according to officials in Duterte’s camp, some 500,000 people have turned themselves into authorities to avoid being violently targeted by the police. Those numbers were made public by Duterte’s administration and have not been confirmed by outside parties.

But if he does have half-a-million people in custody, Duterte likely doesn’t know what to do with them. Some plans have been floated for rehabilitation centers, but they are reportedly still in the works.

Even local politicians are not free from the new government program intended to entirely wipe drugs out of the country. Three mayors turned themselves in this month to avoid retribution.

“I will not hesitate to kill you … don’t think that you’re a governor or a mayor,” Duterte said. “You’ll be the first to go before the civilians.”

Duterte earned his hardline reputation when he served as mayor of Davao City, on the southern island of Mindanao, and ruled by the mantra that killing criminals was the best way to keep the city safe.

After winning the May presidential election, it was clear he would bring that philosophy to the whole nation.

“Double your efforts. Triple them, if need be,” he said in a July speech. “We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars — or below the ground, if they so wish.”

Photo credit: Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images