The President-elect of the Philippines has promised to kill 100,000 criminals in his first six months of office.
Rodrigo Duterte, who will take up his post next month, boasted that so many bodies will be dumped in Manila Bay that ‘the fish will grow fat’.
The purge will be part of an all-out assault on gangs by the police and military – and it won’t be the first time that Duterte is linked to deaths.
During his presidential campaign, Duterte was asked about a report that he killed 700 people. He replied ‘no, it is not 700, but 1,700’, the New York Times said.
Presumptive president-elect of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a press conference before he meets well-wishers in Davao City, southern Philippines, 16 May 2016. On 15 May 2016, Duterte said that he will urge Congress to restore death penalty and will give security forces ëShoot-to-killí orders against members of organized crime synidates.
He will be President next month (Picture: EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO)
He has long suggested killing suspected criminals to address the Philippines’ severe crime problem.
In April, he told a business group: ‘It is going to be bloody. I will use the military and the police to go out and arrest them, hunt for them.
‘And if they will offer a violent resistance, and thereby placing the lives of the law enforcers and the military whom I would task for a job to do, I will simply say, ‘kill them all and end the problem’.’
Rights groups have been calling for an investigation into Duterte since the 1980s by groups of vigilante citizens, according to the report.
The vigilantes evolved into government-sanctioned ‘death squads’ which still operate in the Philippines today.
Victims reportedly include people suspected of committing crimes, drug users and street children.
Police in the city of Davao say they have found no evidence ‘death squads’ exist, although other organisations claim to have found proof.
An enterprising vendor prints "Duterte Shirt" of president-elect Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte along a sidewalk in his hometown in Davao city in southern Philippines, May 11, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
In 2012, The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights recommended that Duterte be criminally investigated for failing to take action to stop the killings, but it did not say that he had direct knowledge of them.
He has never been charged with a crime in connection with the killings.
Statistics from the Philippine National Police show that from 2010 to 2015, the city of about 1.5 million had 1,032 killings.