During a speech at the Heroes’ Cemetery in Manila on Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte went off-script to give some advice to a local police chief whose mayor was recently killed in a drug raid.
“Your duty requires you to overcome the resistance of the person you are arresting,” Duterte told the chief. He added that if a suspect resists with violence, “you are free to kill the idiots, that is my order to you.”
Duterte added that “murder and homicide and unlawful killings” by the police were unacceptable.
One of the most remarkable aspects of these comments is that Duterte spoke only two days after massive protests sparked by the death of Kian Loyd de los Santos, a 17-year-old who was killed during a drug raid.
The police who killed him claimed that he shot at them and they returned fire in self-defense. However, an eyewitness claimed the officers slapped and punched de los Santos, dragged him to a back alley, and executed him while he pleaded for his life, at one point saying, “Stop, please! I have a test tomorrow!” Murder charges have been filed against the policemen involved in the incident.
The Straits Times notes that over 5,000 mourners joined a funeral match for de los Santos, while the roads were lined with protest signs decrying the death toll in Duterte’s drug war. A significant share of the protesters appeared to come from low-income districts where Duterte and the drug war have traditionally been popular.
Duterte met with de los Santos’s parents shortly after delivering his speech at the cemetery, per the family’s request. According to Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, the meeting “went smoothly,” with President Duterte explaining to the family that he could not attend a wake for Kian de los Santos because he is still awaiting the results of an investigation into his death.
“The President addressed the immediate needs of the parents occasioned by the killing of Kian,” Aguirre added.