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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte offered a reward of P2 million for the arrest of police involved in the illegal drug trade.
"Today, I might be inclined to place a reward on their head, members of the police protecting the drug syndicates," said Duterte on Monday, August 29, during the National Heroes' Day ceremony at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
"I'm placing per head, P2 million," he added.
To his audience of Cabinet secretaries, diplomats, soldiers, and military retirees, he joked, "Ipagbili niyo na kabigan niyo (Sell out your friends)."
Duterte previously offered a P3 million bounty for drug lords. His order to law enforcers is to catch them "dead or alive." He also offered smaller bounties – P2 million, P1 million, and P50,000 – for other drug personalities depending on their level of influence and involvement in the drug trade.
The President deplored the existence of police who protect drug syndicates, referring to them as "ninjas."
"[The drug trade] has infected every nook and corner of this country, involving generals, mayors, governors, and so many ninjas, we call them. These are the police who are into [drugs]," he said.
Duterte told them they are better off praying for his death than thinking they can get off the hook.
"Pray that I'll die without a resurrection," he said.
The Philippine National Police said it welcomes Duterte's plan to give a P2 million reward.
"We see this as a bold initiative to once and for all rid the organization of errant personnel who are in cahoots with drug syndicates," said the PNP in a statement.
Those who want to make a report on the whereabouts of such police personnel can contact the PNP Text Hotline 09178475757, open to calls and texts 24/7.
The PNP gave assurances that the information it receives "will be kept in strict confidence" and will "undergo rugid validation procedures."
Duterte also used his speech as an opportunity to blast critics of his "war on drugs," calling them "citizens who fall short of grasping a situation."
He said he was especially miffed by those who claim his anti-illegal drugs campaign focuses on poor suspects but spares the richer, more powerful ones.
Defending his campaign, he said the "big fish" are already out of the country, beyond his government's reach.” The "lieutenants" of the drug trade are the ones left in the country for his drug war to deal with.
An agitated Duterte wondered why these poorer drug personalities should be spared "just because they are poor."
"Don't tell me because he is poor, he has to sell shabu!" he said.
The President also responded to those who say soldiers are not usually deployed for internal security problems.
"If the military will not do its part and we'll leave it to the police alone, we cannot ever, ever suppress the drug problem," he said.
It was former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who declared illegal drugs a national security threat, justifying the involvement of the military, Duterte added. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.