MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – True to his projected tough stance on crime, President Rodrigo Duterte expressed satisfaction about simultaneous anti-drug operations in Bulacan which killed a record number of suspects.
Duterte was told the raids led to 32 deaths – possibly the highest death toll in a day during the President's drug war.
"‘Yung namatay daw kanina sa Bulacan, 32, in a massive raid. Maganda ‘yun. Makapatay lang tayo ng mga another 32 everyday then maybe we can reduce what ails this country," he said on Wednesday, August 16, during the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) anniversary.
(Thirty-two died early in Bulacan, in a massive raid. That's good. If we can kill another 32 everyday then maybe we can reduce what ails this country.)
Bulacan Provincial Police Director Senior Superintendent Romeo Caramat Jr earlier told reporters that 107 others were also arrested in the raids and buy-bust operations on Tuesday, August 15.
Duterte reminded his audience that his fight against illegal drugs will undoubtedly impact communities all over the country.
"It really takes a toll, whether you're the victim or the suspect," he said. (READ: The Impunity Series)
If Duterte had his way, he said would kill those involved in drug trafficking.
"I will be able to solve the problem if I kill them all," he said. (READ: Duterte on killings: Do you think I enjoy that?)
The President expects backlash from human rights groups, concerned citizens, and critics due to the deadly Bulacan raids.
"I think there will be an outcry again because of the 32 who were killed earlier. They will grieve again for justice. If you drug lords don't observe justice, you destroy the people," said Duterte.
He tried to tone down a bit by claiming he never gave direct orders to kill anyone specific. (READ: Shoot to kill? Duterte's statements on killing drug users)
"I never said, 'You kill Mr Aguirre.' My order is, 'You destroy the apparatus.' If you die, I'm sorry. You got into it," said Duterte.
"Why did so many die? Because the police are working, since I am protecting them," he added.
In the same speech, the President again called out Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Chito Gascon, describing him as an "ulol na mestizo" (fair-skinned fool).
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 email@example.com.