MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 11:31 a.m.) President Rodrigo Duterte is “deranged” for suggesting killing 32 persons a day might “reduce what ails this country,” detained Senator Leila de Lima said Friday.
“Those are clear words of deranged man to say that it is good, that it’s okay to kill 32 people a day,” De Lima told reporters on her way to her arraignment on the drug charges filed against her before Muntinlupa City Regional Trial Court Branch 205.
But the arraignment was rescheduled to September 15 after the prosecution filed a motion to introduce more information and the defense asked the court to junk the charges.
Speaking at the anniversary of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption on Wednesday, Duterte hailed the deaths of 32 drug suspects — all of who supposedly fought back — over the previous 24 hours in a police anti-crime sweep in Bulacan province.
“‘Yung namatay daw kanina sa Bulacan 32, in a massive raid … maganda ‘yan (There were 32 reported killed in Bulacan in a massive raid … that’s good),” he said. “Makapatay lang tayo ng (If we can only kill) another 32 everyday, then maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”
Soon after saying this, another 25 suspects were slain in Manila.
The two-day death toll, the death of 17-year old senior high school student Kian Lloyd delos Santos in Caloocan City, who police claimed shot at officers but witnesses and closed circuit television footage indicate may have been murdered in cold blood, and Duterte’s statement have rekindled outrage over the government’s perceived disregard for human rights as it wages a war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives since last year.
Duterte, who campaigned for the presidency on a pledge to stamp out drugs within three months of assuming office, has had to push back his self-imposed timetable until his recent admission that he will not be able to fulfill his promise within his term.
Despite this, he has dismissed criticism and vowed to continue the aggressive campaign, repeatedly promising presidential pardons for law enforcers who may be convicted of murder for killing drug suspects.
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De Lima said Duterte “shouldn’t have made that promise.”
“Alam nating imposible talaga ‘yan (We know that’s impossible),” she said.
“Ilan pa ba ang papatayin niya (Duterte)? Kahit ilan pa ang patayin nila, hindi maso-solve ‘yang droga kasi maling (How many more will he kill? No matter how may they kill, they will never solve the drug problem because it’s the wrong) approach,” she added.
She also lashed at Duterte’s latest tirade against human rights advocates, who he threatened to have shot for “obstructing justice.”
“Another proof of a deranged mind. Why threaten human rights advocates?,” she said.
Meanwhile, former Senator Rene Saguisag, a counsel of De Lima, said he doubts she can expect a fair trial under the Duterte administration.
“No way she could get a fair trial kung hindi titigilan ang kadadaldal nitong napakamakuwento nating Pangulo (if our talkative President doesn’t stop talking),” he said. “Once a case is filed in court, the administration should shut up. To me this is a case of obvious mistrial.”
De Lima, who is turning 58 on August 27, said her birthday wish is that “my vindication comes out soon.”
Saguisag said a mass will be held in Camp Crame, where De Lima is detained, to mark the day. Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, is expected to attend.