Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte orders police to kill eldest son if hard drugs involvement ‘rumours’ are true

Bangkok: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he has ordered police to kill his eldest son if they can prove he is involved in smuggling or drug trafficking.

“My orders are to kill you if you are caught, and I will protect the police who kill you,” Mr Duterte said he told his 42-year-old son Paolo Duterte, the vice mayor of the family’s southern home city of Davao.

Paolo, who is known as Pulong, was accused of being a member of a triad via a Chinese transnational organised crime syndicate during a hearing in the Philippine Senate on September 7.

He denied the allegations, saying they were “baseless” and “rumours”.

During a speech to government workers at the Malacanang palace in Manila on Wednesday, Mr Duterte said if it was proven that any of his children were involved in drugs, police could kill them “so the people can’t say anything against me”.

“That’s better… so I can say to people: ‘There, you keep talking. That’s my son’s corpse’,” he said.

When he took office last year, Mr Duterte implemented a deadly crackdown on drugs that has left more than 9000 – mostly poor Filipinos – dead in the largest loss of civilian lives in south-east Asia since the 1970s.

Human rights groups say the crackdown could amount to a crime against humanity, while it has been condemned by the United Nations, the United States and other Western countries.

In early September in the Senate, opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes, a former navy officer, accused Paolo Duterte of being involved in triad operation where more than a tonne of crystal methamphetamine was fast-tracked through Philippine customs in shipments from China.

Mr Trillanes challenged Paolo to show a tattoo on his back that allegedly proved he was member of a gang.

Paolo Duterte acknowledged he did have a tattoo on his back but refused to show it.

In Senate hearings in 2016, self-confessed hit-man Edgar Matobato and retired policeman Arthur Lascanas accused the President’s son of masterminding drug smuggling and protecting drugs lords. The claims have never been proven.

Mr Trillanes also produced in the senate this month a 2007 report by a Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group referring to “intelligence information received” that Paolo Duterte was involved in the smuggling of luxury cars and other goods through the Davao port.

But appearing before the Senate committee on September 7, Paolo declared: “Once and for all, I now have the time to deny any and all baseless allegations thrown against me”.

After the hearing, government officials and Mr Duterte’s supporters accused Mr Trillanes of hiding ill-gotten wealth in secret bank accounts.

“I will destroy him or he will destroy me,” the President told reporters, referring to Mr Trillanes.

Mr Trillanes now says he will walk away from politics when his senate term ends in 2019, saying “my life is at stake here”.

Mr Duterte, a long-time mayor of Davao before he was swept into the top office on a brutal law-and-order platform, often makes expletive-ridden and boastful comments, promising to eradicate illegal drugs by killing up to 100,000 traffickers and addicts.

But his high popularity in the island-nation of 100 million people took a hit in August when evidence emerged showing that police had executed a 17-year-old school boy they falsely claimed was involved in drugs.

Henry Sapiecha

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