Criminals are not human: Philippine justice minister

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte answers a question during a press conference at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017.

Duterte himself has described police as "corrupt to the core".

The Philippine President has ordered a "cleansing" of rogue police after the abduction and killing of a South Korean businessman.

The drug war in the Philippines has resulted in the deaths of more than 7,000 since Duterte declared it open season on those involved in the drug trade last July. He was allegedly cremated, his ashes flushed down a toilet bowl, according to an angry Duterte.

On Monday, Philippine police announced they would put the drug war on hold in order to root out corrupt police.

A Duterte administration official argued that suspected drug criminals are not human, and that's why they can be killed without effect.

The AI said its team of researchers interviewed 110 people across the country, including some policemen, and documented 33 cases of drug-related killings, of which 20 occurred in police operations and 13 involved unknown armed men. "It will be more challenging. that is why we are engaging other stakeholders". The PNP has also recorded 52,962 arrests.

There were no reported drug war related killings the day after the official announcement that anti-drug police units would at least temporarily be dissolved.

The crackdown has alarmed Western governments, United Nations officials and human rights watchdogs, which have accused policemen of extrajudicial killings.

When asked about the Amnesty report which expresses "deep concern" about President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre was quick to state that the campaign in no way represented crimes against humanity, despite the insinuations of the human rights organization.

"The police can not help being typecast as alleged violators of human rights partly because of the basic nature of its law enforcement function", it said. "We must learn to trust our PNP officials again; otherwise we will have no order in our streets", he said.

"He was a user, but he'd stopped", she said.

Those concerns are warranted.

Two of the officers suspected of carrying out the crime were on a key anti-drug force.

"Fabricating their subsequent incident reports, the police have routinely claimed that they had been fired upon first".

The AI cited cases wherein suspects pleaded for mercy and surrendered but were still killed. Police have classified most extrajudicial killings as "death under investigation".

The anti-drugs campaign has caused global alarm due to the high death toll and disputed circumstances of numerous killings. But the victim was killed at the main police camp in metropolitan Manila, and the officers collected the ransom without telling his wife he was dead, according to police. "But if decisive action is not taken soon, the worldwide community should turn to the prosecutor of the (ICC) to carry out a preliminary examination into these killings, including the involvement of officials at the very top of government", AI said.

Duterte has roundly estimated that 40 percent of the Philippine police force consists of "scalawags", while 60 percent are true to their mandate of fighting crime within the limits of the law.

As a Metro Manila anti-drugs police officer revealed to us, the police are paid "per hit" by their bosses.

Lacson, who chairs the Senate committee on public order and unsafe drugs, said he has been hearing such rumors but so far there have been no evidence. They receive no bonus for mere arrests, however.

Government opponents in parliament could soon shine more unfavorable light on the campaign. "We have no direct contact with (who) orders the killing", he added.

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