Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte said that he would allow police to execute his son if allegations that he was involved in drug smuggling were proven to be true. Duterte won last year's presidential election on the back of a brutal platform in which he promised to eradicate illegal drugs by killing every drug trafficker and addict in the country. To date, Philippine police have reported killing nearly 4,000 drug offenders, and thousands more have died in unexplained circumstances.
During his campaign speeches, Duterte promised that he would even allow his own children to be executed if they got involved in drugs. He may now have the chance to make good on his promise, as his son, 42-year-old Paolo Duterte, has been accused of drug smuggling. An opposition lawmaker has accused the president's son of being involved in a gang that was smuggling large quantities of crystal meth in the Phillippines from China. Paolo Duterte was called to appear before a senate inquiry earlier this month, during which he denied the charges against him.
In a recent speech, President Duterte reiterated his promise to allow police to execute his own children if found guilty of drug offenses. “I said before my order was: ‘If I have children who are into drugs, kill them so people will not have anything to say,’” he said. “So I told Pulong [Paolo’s nickname]: ‘My order is to kill you if you are caught. And I will protect the police who kill you, if it is true.’”
Thousands of protesters took to the streets this week, holding rival rallies both for and against the president's brutal war on drugs. Protesters against the president included leaders of the Catholic Church, along with former president Benigno Aquino, and current vice-president Leni Robredo. Protest leader Pedro Gonzalez compared Duterte's campaign to the violent rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“Our country is turning into a graveyard,” Gonzalez said. “People are getting killed every day and we bury the dead every day, just like in the time of Marcos.”