Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has issued a threat to have his own son killed if drug trafficking allegations against him turn out to be true, marking the latest chapter in the controversial leader’s deadly and extrajudicial war on drugs.
Paolo Duterte, the 42-year-old who serves as the vice mayor of the president’s hometown of Davao, stands accused of smuggling large quantities of crystal methamphetamine from China through a Chinese syndicate, AFP reported.
While President Duterte did not specifically acknowledge the allegations, he restated a campaign promise that if any of his children were found to be involved in the drug trade, he would take the sternest action possible.
“I said before my order was: ‘If I have children who are into drugs, kill them so people will not have anything to say,’” Duterte said during a speech on Wednesday given to government workers at the presidential palace in Manila.
“So I told Pulong (the younger Duterte’s nickname): ‘My order is to kill you if you are caught. And I will protect the police who kill you, if it is true,’” he added.
The dire proclamation comes as little surprise for many Filipinos, many of whom backed the 72-year-old former Davao mayor in the latest presidential elections because of his vow to exterminate illegal drugs by slaughtering up to 100,000 traffickers and addicts.
True to his word, Duterte has overseen nearly 4,000 police killings in anti-drug operations, not to mention several thousand more murders that were carried out in suspicious circumstances. While he has gone on the record as “happy to slaughter” drug addicts, Duterte claims that he has never instructed law enforcement officers to do anything outside the law.
Opponents of the Duterte administration claim that he and his family have been involved in corrupt activities ever since he spent two decades as the mayor of Davao. Duterte has countered the allegations by pointing to his modest lifestyle and his anti-graft measures.