Duterte says children killed in Philippines drug war are ‘collateral damage’

‘With the policeman and the M16, it’s one burst, brrrr, and [he] hits 1,000 people there,’ explains Philippines president

Paramedics attend the scene of an extrajudicial killing in Manila in September
Paramedics attend the scene of an extrajudicial killing in Manila in September. Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has vowed no let-up in his war on crime. Photograph: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, has referred to innocent people and children as “collateral damage” in his war on drugs because police use automatic weapons when confronting criminals.

Asked in an interview with al-Jazeera about minors caught up in the violence, Duterte said those cases would be investigated but added that police can kill hundreds of civilians without criminal liability.

He gave a hypothetical example of an officer using an M16 rifle when dealing with a “gangster” who wields a pistol. “When they meet, they exchange fire. With the policeman and the M16, it’s one burst, brrr, and [he] hits 1,000 people there and they die.

“It could not be negligence because you have to save your life. It could not be recklessness because you have to defend yourself,” he said.


Duterte then compared the killing of innocents in the Philippines to US attacks in wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan, where civilians are killed during airstrikes on militants.

“When you bomb a village you intend to kill the militants but you kill the children there … Why do you say it is collateral damage to the west and to us it is murder?”

Philippine law enforcement and vigilante groups have killed more than 3,800 people since Duterte took office on 30 June, part of a war on drugs he says will save the country.

About 1,500 of those died in police operations but most killings were carried out by armed groups which Duterte has, at times, publicly encouraged. His critics say the president has allowed an atmosphere of lawlessness to develop in which criminal groups can settle vendettas with impunity.

Regardless, the president has lashed out at at any criticism from domestic rights organisations and foreign governments for his brutal crackdown.

“We have 3 million drug addicts and it’s growing. So if we do not interdict this problem, the next generation will be having a serious problem,” he said.

“You destroy my country, I’ll kill you. And it’s a legitimate thing. If you destroy our young children, I will kill you. That is a very correct statement. There is nothing wrong in trying to preserve the interest of the next generation.

“In my country there is no law that says I cannot threaten criminals,” he added. “I do not care what the human rights guys say. I have a duty to preserve the generation. If it involves human rights, I don’t give a shit. I have to strike fear.”

One thought on “Duterte says children killed in Philippines drug war are ‘collateral damage’

  1. Indeed, the number of people being innocent of any crime is outnumbering the number of those who are actually guilty of a crime, the number of real criminals being killed in a war against criminals is always far less then those who are innocently killed, and murdered, by those who haunt and fight the real criminals!

    The huge problem though is, that when fighting the real criminals, the majority of people being killed by those who claim to be fighting the real criminals is always(!) subject to discussion, as those who are claimed to be the real criminals can only be labeled as such by and through independent court, and not by anyone else, like a blood-thirsty low-life self-proclaimed President!

    Referring to killed women and children as being collateral damage in the fight against drug-dealers is unacceptable, regardless of the goals and the reasons for such fight!

    Yes, drug-dealers are individuals who need and must to be fought, be removed from any society and any community, BUT first these drug-dealers MUST be legally arrested, brought before a court, and be convicted of what they are accused of, and not arbitrary killed on the streets by people who have formed militia and private armies!

    People who call for the killings of non-convicted people are as bad as the criminals themselves, are as bad as the ones they claim to be fighting, they not only become outlaws, they in fact are outlaws!

    And no, I am not defending drug-dealers, and not defending those supporting the drug-dealers, the opposite, in my opinion drug-dealers and the ones supporting them should be as soon as possible be arrested, and judged by independent judges (who are not on the pay-role of the drug-cartels or the drug-barons), and be convicted when and were there is proof of their drug-dealings, and no I am not defending the users of drugs that enable the existence of drug-dealers, quite the opposite!

    What I am strongly opposed to is a President who without trial and law let people being killed because there is an assumption of guilt, simply because someone is saying that another person is a drug-dealer!
    Numerous cases have been established were people have been killed who were not drug-dealers but were reported by people who wanted simply someone out of the way, so they can take over a shop, a house, a property!

    And President Duterte accommodated these people with the opportunity to have these innocent people removed, killed by his murder-squads!

    Unlawful killings are indeed unlawful killings, and must be punished, even and especially when they are committed by official institutions and representatives of these official institutions, like the police, the military!

    President Duterte makes the claim that the drug-dealers are removed from the streets, the communities, he forgets obviously that when ignoring the law you become a criminal, then you become a criminal like the ones you claim to be fighting!

    Collateral damage is something that must(!) be prevented, at all costs!
    Yes, at all costs, even when that means that you are forced to go walk a path that takes time and effort, collateral damage in the form of innocent people being killed means to be responsible and accountable for the people who have been killed, murdered innocently!

    President Duterte is responsible and accountable for ALL the innocent people having been, and being killed by his troops, police as well as military, and President Duterte must be brought to justice for these innocently killed, murdered people!

    And every assumed drug-dealer having been killed, or who is to be killed, must be investigated, by independent courts, tribunals, and when there is no convincing proof of guilt be rehabilitated!

    No one should be removed from society or community without proven to be guilty, and such guilt can only be established by independent courts, not by police- or military-forces, or by profiting neighbors and or family members!


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