We have previously discussed the disgraceful reign of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a foul-mouthed, patently unstable leader who relishes extrajudicial killings. Duterte who has unleashed profanities at the Pope, President Obama, and anyone else objecting to his evisceration of human rights and the rule of law. Now, Duterte, undeterred by global condemnations and withholding of aid programs, he is now publicly bragging about how he personally murdered suspects as an example for police who were a bit more reluctant to engage in extrajudicial murders. The question now is whether the Filipino government contains enough sane and honorable leaders to finally move to remove this unhinged, tyrannical figure. While China clearly loves what it sees in this murderous authoritarian, most Filipinos were raised in a nation that has struggled to create true democratic institutions based on the rule of law.
Duterte used a speech on Monday night to businessmen to casually discussed how he used to personally kill people suspected of drug ties. Various witnesses have said that they witnessed Duterte murder people, but this is the first direct confession to murder. Thousands have reportedly been killed without charge or trial under Duterte’s short but blood-soaked rule. In referring to his time as mayor of Davao, he said
“In Davao I used to do it personally. Just to show to the guys (police) that if I can do it why can’t you . . . And I’d go around in Davao with a motorcycle, with a big bike around, and I would just patrol the streets, looking for trouble also. I was really looking for a confrontation so I could kill.”
A lawyer by training, Duterte, 71, reportedly thought it was funny to recount his past murders: “I (would) sometimes go along with them. If you say I shot someone, maybe I did. I was closing my eyes because I am scared of firing a gun.”
Duterte is a little different from most tyrants. Most assume control of government based on promised of democracy or justice. There was no “bait and switch” by Duterte. He ran on a pledge to kill 100,000 people would die in the crackdown and to feed the fish in Manila Bay with their corpses.
Since taking office, he has made good on an established 2,086 killings in police operations and more than 3,000 others who have been killed in unexplained circumstances. He has promised police that no one in the force will go to jail for such murders.
In the United States, there might be an issue of impeachment for crimes that occurred before taking office. However, that is hardly a problem for a president who ran on the promise of extrajudicial murders and his government has carried out such murders.