Keep on killing: legal boss

Philippine slum dwellers are particularly vulnerable to the unchecked wave of official killings. Source: Pixabay

The Philippine government’s top legal adviser has called for the police to execute more suspected drug dealers, as he defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on crime.

Police say they have killed more than 110 suspects since Duterte won the presidential election in May promising a crackdown that would claim thousands of lives and fill the morgues.

Nine deaths are being linked to Duterte’s war on drug criminals and other wrongdoers.

Police said they had killed 103 suspects between May 9 and July 7, but insisted they were operating within the law.

Eight of the nine “suspects” killed on Saturday were executed in Matalam in the southern province of Cotabato.

The police claimed they were forced to shoot after encountering resistance, as they have in other recent cases.

A ninth corpse was found outside Manila with his body covered with a sign reading “I am a pusher”.

The police are being accused of performing summary executions and other bodies have been found with placards declaring them to be drug traffickers. Activists and MPs fear the killings are spiralling out of control.

Solicitor General Jose Calida told the media on Monday at the national police headquarters that he defended the legality of the police killings and encouraging more deaths of suspected drug dealers.

“To me, that is not enough,” Calida said of the murders. “How many drug addicts or pushers are there in the Philippines? Our villages are almost saturated.”

Duterte says drastic action is needed to stop the archipelago turning into a narco-state.

The 71-year-old former lawyer has urged the police to kill those they believe to be working in the drug trade and other criminals.

Rights lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno said Duterte had “spawned a nuclear explosion of violence that is spiralling out of control and creating a nation without judges”.

Former senator Rene Saguisag, who was a human-rights lawyer during Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorial rule, criticised Duterte’s statements naming and shaming alleged drug bosses and police officers ahead of a formal investigation.

“Do we still probe and have a trial as part of due process? Useless, it seems to me,” Saguisag wrote online.

MPs have called for an official inquiry into the killings.

But Calida said he would protect police any congressional investigation, while emphasising it was up to critics to prove allegations of abuse.

“I am here to encourage the [police] not to be afraid of any congressional or senate investigations. We will defend them … I am the defender,” Calida said.