Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte said U.S. President-elect Donald Trump commended him in a phone call for conducting his brutal war on drugs “the right way.”
The two leaders spoke by phone on Friday, and Duterte relayed their conversation to reporters on Saturday, the New York Times reported.
Duterte: There is no let-up on your EJK spree (5869 EJKs to-date) BUT you are extra nice on drug lords!
YOU let JAGUAR (Peter Lim) escaped!
Duterte has invoked the Holocaust to defend his war on drugs. “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts,” he said in September. “I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
His tactics have prompted criticism from leaders in the United States and United Nations. When U.S. President Barack Obama said he planned to discuss the anti-drug campaign in scheduled talks with the Philippines president, Duterte called him “a son of a whore.”
“I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump,” Duterte said Saturday. “And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.”
“He understood the way we are handling it, and I said that there’s nothing wrong in protecting a country,” Duterte said, according to the Times. “It was a bit very encouraging in the sense that I supposed that what he really wanted to say was that we would be the last to interfere in the affairs of your own country.”
Trump’s transition team has not yet commented on the phone call, during which Trump extended an invitation for Duterte to visit the White House.
Asked about the invitation on Friday, White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz called extrajudicial killings “inconsistent with the values that we try and promote around the world—values that include basic human rights.”
“It’s going to be up to the next President-elect to decide which foreign leaders he meets with,” he said.
"If I obey the 10 Commandments or listen to priests, I would not be able to do anything as a mayor."
Danica Mae Garcia's family was just sitting down for lunch when the gunmen came.
Two masked men pulled up on a black motorcycle outside her family's house in Dagupan City, Philippines, and opened fire. They were targeting the girl's grandfather, Maximo Garcia. But five-year-old Danica Mae was killed in the crossfire.
Gemma Garcia, grandmother of Danica Mae Garcia
(photo byDean Bernardo)"We are trying to move on and just thinking that maybe that's part of our life," she tells Tremonti. "We are just praying that Danica can have justice for what happened to her."
Danica Mae is one of thousands of Filipinos who have been killed in the Philippines in connection with the country's bloody war on drugs, started by president Rodrigo Duterte in July. Some have been killed by police, allegedly in drug arrests gone wrong, but many have also been killed by masked vigilantes who have never been caught.
"The cold blooded killing of Danica Mae Garcia illustrates what is nothing less than an utter human rights catastrophe that's underway in the Philippines," says Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine.
"President Rodrigo Duterte's abusive and ill-conceived 'war on drugs'... has killed more than 5,000 people since he took office on June 30th."
Kine tells Tremonti that president Duterte took office on a platform promising Filipinos that he would rid the Philippines of crime and drugs.
"He made campaign promises… to fill Manila Bay with the bodies of thousands of executed suspected criminals and he is delivering on his campaign pledges with a vengeance."
In a speech in September, Dueterte compared himself to Adolf Hitler, saying he would be "happy to slaughter" drug addicts.
Peter Laviña, deputy cabinet secretary of the Philippines, tells Tremonti that Dueterte's comments should not be taken literally.
"We say things differently in our own culture, and in our own context," says Laviña.
He adds that "the president's way of saying things is very unique. The only way you deal with criminals in [this] case is to be tough against them."
When pressed to confirm if he supports the anti-drug violence in the Philippines, Laviña was non-committal.
"That's the way the president says things but that is not the policy of our government."
Philippines: Dismantle ‘Davao Death Squad’
"If you are doing an illegal activity in my city, if you are a criminal or part of a syndicate that preys on the innocent people of the city, for as long as I am the mayor, you are a legitimate target of assassination."—Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte
From Human Rights Watch
At around 6 p.m. on July 17, 2008, 20-year-old Jaypee Larosa left his home in Lanang, a quiet residential neighborhood in Davao City, to go to a nearby Internet cafe. An hour later his family heard six successive gunshots. A neighbor rushed into their house to say one of their sons had been shot in front of the café. Jaypee was taken to a hospital, but was declared dead on arrival.
Eyewitnesses said that Larosa had been shot by three men in dark jackets who had arrived on a motorcycle. After they shot him, one of them removed the baseball cap Larosa was wearing and said, “Son of a bitch. This is not the one,” and they immediately left the scene. It appears that the assailants were seeking to kill another man, a suspected robber. No one has been arrested for Larosa’s murder. His family is unaware of the police having taken any meaningful action in the case.
Jaypee Larosa is just one of hundreds of victims of unresolved targeted killings committed over the past decade in Davao City and elsewhere in the Philippines. Dozens of family members have described to Human Rights Watch the murder of their loved ones, all killed in similar fashion. Most victims are alleged drug dealers, petty criminals, and street children, some of whom are members of street gangs. Impunity for such crimes is nearly total—few such cases have been seriously investigated by the police, let alone prosecuted.
Although reports of targeted killings in the Philippines, particularly in Mindanao, are not new, the number of victims has seen a steady rise over many years. In Davao City, the number has risen from two in 1998 to 98 in 2003 to 124 in 2008. In 2009, 33 killings were reported in January alone. In recent years the geographical scope of such killings has expanded far beyond Davao City and other cities on the southern island of Mindanao to Cebu City, the Philippines’ second largest metropolis. An already serious problem is becoming much worse.
This report provides an anatomy of death squad operations. It is based on our investigations of 28 killings, 18 of which took place in 2007 and 2008. The victims include children as young as 14. In researching this report, we found evidence of complicity and at times direct involvement of government officials and members of the police in killings by the so-called Davao Death Squad (DDS). We obtained detailed and consistent information on the DDS from relatives and friends of death squad members with direct knowledge of death squad operations, as well as journalists, community activists, and government officials who provided detailed corroborating evidence.
According to these “insiders,” most members of the DDS are either former communist New People’s Army insurgents who surrendered to the government or young men who themselves were death squad targets and joined the group to avoid being killed. Most can make far more money with the DDS than in other available occupations. Their handlers, called amo (boss), are usually police officers or ex-police officers. They provide them with training, weapons and ammunition, motorcycles, and information on the targets. Death squad members often use .45-caliber handguns, a weapon commonly used by the police but normally prohibitively expensive for gang members and common criminals.
The insiders told Human Rights Watch that the amo obtain information about targets from police or barangay (village or city district) officials, who compile lists of targets. The amo provides members of a death squad team with as little as the name of the target, and sometimes an address and a photograph. Police stations are then notified to ensure that police officers are slow to respond, enabling the death squad members to escape the crime scene, even when they commit killings near a police station.