CAPIZ, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte hyped up the list of government officials suspected of involvement in the drug trade, saying it includes names not only of mayors but some judges, and maybe a governor and a congressman.
"Ngayon (now), if I read now the names of the judges which I will in a few hours, few days, may mga congressman (there are congressmen), it's not because gusto ko sila siraan (I want to ruin their reputation) – pati mga judges, pulis mga congressman (even the judges, police, congressmen)," he said on Friday night, August 5, in Camp Lapu-Lapu in Cebu.
Duterte said he plans to release the list in the "next few hours or days" through a video message to be aired on state-run news channel PTV4. That message was reportedly pre-taped on Friday.
Early morning that day, Duterte said some of the officials in the list come from Mindanao. He said the list does not include officials from Davao City, his hometown.
Chief Presidential Counsel Salvador Panelo previously said Duterte was set to release 27 names of local government executives into the drug trade. But that morning, Duterte said he was not sure of the exact number of names.
In Cebu, Duterte said naming government officials as drug suspects is nothing personal.
"It behooves upon me, nandito sa akin 'yung obligasyon (I have the obligation) to tell the Filipino people what is happening to this country," he said.
'Just like dogs'
Those on the list, though they are politically influential, will not be exempt from his "shoot to kill" order should they resist arrest, he said.
Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr of Leyte, the first on the list to surrender, was lucky he reached Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, said Duterte.
"Yung mayor ng Albuera, mabuti nakaabot siya doon kay Bato na pinahanap ko – 'shoot on sight' parang aso. Eh ginagawa mong aso ang taongbayan eh. Mga anak namin, gunggong na," said the President, seething with anger.
(The Albuera mayor, good thing he reached Bato. I had an order to shoot him on sight like a dog. Because he is treating the people of this country like dogs. Our children have become witless.)
Earlier that day, in an ambush interview with media, Duterte said he ordered agencies to validate and even re-validate the evidence against the government officials in his drug list.
"That is why I ordered a revalidation because it would be unfair because if you're a politician tainted with drug links, you're finished. That is why I’m very careful, but I am not under any law obliged to remain silent, just because there is due process," he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He added that his shoot-to-kill campaign "will remain until the last day of my term."
He warned those on the list to choose a different vice or face death.
"Maghanap na lang kayo ng kasalanan, huwag iyan, siguradong mamatay kayo (Look for another sin, not that, because you will surely die)," said Duterte.
Asked if he would respect the suspects' right to due process, he repeated his stance that it's the judiciary's job to provide due process, not him.
"I am not a court that would give you due process," he said.
For him, his job is to say "words of warning and threats and intimidation" to inform Filipino citizens of the drug menace.
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.