Duterte vows protection for barangay chiefs unjustly accused of drug war deaths
MANILA, Philippines – If barangay captains face lawsuits for killing or beating up an individual in the name of the campaign against illegal drugs, President Rodrigo Duterte will intervene on their behalf.
"'Pag nagkaatraso kayo and there's a case filed against you and you think you are in the performance of your duty as barangay tapos napatay mo, nabugbog mo, do not be afraid," he said on Tuesday, June 12, in Clark, Pampanga.
(If you earn an enemy and there's a case filed against you and you think you are in the performance of duty but you kill or beat someone up, do not be afraid.)
He was speaking to a room full of Central Luzon barangay captains who took their oath in his presence.
"Magkakaso kayo, nandiyan ako (If a case is filed against you, I'll be there), and I will even – pakialaman ko (intervene).... You will have my support and I will take the cudgels for you," said Duterte.
If the barangay captains themselves die because of the fight against drugs, Duterte would even go so far as to seek vengeance for them, he said.
"Kung sakali na kayo'y madisgrasya, magtatanong ako at reresbak ako," said the Chief Executive. (If you meet a tragic end, I will ask around and I will avenge you.)
Barangay captains who are serious in their local campaigns against illegal drugs, based on his "assessment," could also be given the power to bear arms.
"I might consider arming you.... I may support you and I may grant you possession and to carry your fire arms," said Duterte.
The President's similar promises to policemen and military drew criticism for appearing to reward security personnel who kill in the name of his fight against prohibited drugs.
It's these kinds of presidential declarations, say critics, that embolden dirty policemen to kill drug suspects, even when they are unarmed.
The support of barangay captains is critical because, as the smallest unit of government, it's a frontliner in the campaign against drugs.
The administration has counted on barangays to draw up lists of suspected drug pushers. Some have pointed out, however, that the system does not stop barangay executives from including names without any basis and for political reasons. – Rappler.com