It was only Friday when the Philippine’s President, Rodrigo Duterte, renewed a threat to kill drug dealers after police seized 756 kg (1,667 lb) of methamphetamines, a haul he said proved the Southeast Asian country had become a transhipment point for narcotics.
The crystal methamphetamine, with a Philippine market value that police put at 5.1 billion pesos ($102.22 million), was one of the biggest seizures since Duterte unleashed his dramatic war on drugs, which has defined his presidency, since 2016.
An undertaker removes the body of a suspected victim of the Philippines' war on drugs from a street in Pasay city, south of Manila. Image credit Francis R. Malasig, EPA
“If you destroy my country distributing 5.1 billion pesos worth of shabu ... I will kill you,” Duterte said in a recorded address, referring to the drugs.
He did not say where the drugs were thought to have come from but said the Philippines was a transhipment centre for Mexican drugs gangsters.
Duterte also has thrown insults at human rights groups for criticising his anti-narcotics campaign.
The United Nations declared in a report on Thursday that tens of thousands of people in the Philippines may have been killed in the war on drugs amid “near impunity” for police and incitement to violence by top police officials.
Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte during a late-night press conference at Malacanang Palace in Manila, where he criticised Vice-President Leni Robredo - who has led his anti-drug crackdown - for discussing her work with the UN. Image credit Ted ALJIBE, AFP
But government data have put the number of suspected drug dealers and users killed in police anti-narcotics operations since July 2016 at 5,600.
Rights group have pointed out that the police precipitously executed suspects. Police have denied that, saying they have acted in self-defence when suspects resisted the arrest.
Duterte’s office also dismissed the United Nations’ report, as “rehashed claims” and the accusation of impunity is “totally unfounded”, the government claimed.