Wednesday 20th June, 2018
24 ℃ | 32 ℃Singapore

MANILA, Philippines - In the face of an impeachment complaint and the threat of an international lawsuit, undeterred Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said that he is not intimidated. 

Facing severe backlash for his anti-drug crackdown, that has so far left thousands of mostly poor drug suspects dead - Duterte said he would rather have criminals dead if they threaten law enforcers, than see his men killed. 

He further warned that he would only stop his crackdown, if drug traffickers halt their trade. 

He said he had ordered policemen to shoot criminals who would threaten the lives of law enforcers.

Addressing a news conference in southern Davao city before flying to Myanmar, Duterte said, “Follow the law and we’re all right. Drop the shabu (methamphetamine) and nobody will die tomorrow but I will not be intimidated and I shall not be stopped by just ... what? International Criminal Court? Impeachment?” 

Further adding, “If you are a criminal and you are caught in the act, do not fight because if you place the guy’s life, place it in jeopardy of losing it, my order is to shoot you. I do not want to see military men and dead men on my side killed. I’d rather that the criminals, however (in the) thousands or billions they are, they should be the first to go.”

Duterte’s tough stance comes days after a Philippine lawmaker filed an impeachment complaint against the President citing the thousands of deaths in his crackdown and alleged corruption.

Since the president’s allies hold an overwhelming majority (260 of the House’s 292 members) in the House of Representatives, the lawmaker, former soldier turned Magdalo Representative, Gary Alejano’s complaint faces an uphill battle.

Alejano’s complaint alleges that Duterte violated the constitution, committed bribery and corruption and betrayed the public trust with his actions, including the crackdown, which has sparked extrajudicial killings, and his failure to declare huge bank deposits as required by law.

Further, a lawyer has threatened to file a lawsuit against Duterte before the International Criminal Court for the alleged extrajudicial killings.

On his part, Duterte welcomed the impeachment complaint as a democratic option in his country, while declaring that it would not derail his crackdown.

He has also added that he does not condone unlawful killings, even though reports pointed out that the tough-speaking President has threatened criminals with death in several speeches. 

Duterte said, “The drive against corruption, the drive against criminality and drugs will resume and it will continue, and it will be brutal if they do not understand the role of government. I will not be, for a moment, be out of focus on that. I rose on what I promised and I will fall on that.”

This is the first such impeachment complaint to be filed against the intrepid leader and would require the support of one-third of the House in order for it to make it to Senate for trail. For a conviction to be carried out, a two-thirds Senate vote is then needed.

Since Duterte came to power, on July 1, 2016, police records show that more than 7,000 people have been killed, linked to the drug war. 

These include more than 2,500 drug suspects killed in police operations and the police have classified the rest as "deaths under investigation" or vigilante-style killings with possible links to illegal drugs.

Duterte’s administration and allies have repeatedly rejected allegations that the killings are state-sponsored.

Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada was the last leader to be impeached by Congress.

He battled allegations of corruption and violation of the Constitution in 2000 and his impeachment trial was stalled, by an uprising that eventually saw him forced from office.

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