Police in the Philippines killed 32 people in a wave of anti-drug operations north of the capital, Manila—making Wednesday the single deadliest day so far of President Rodrigo Duterte‘s ultra-deadly War on Drugs.
Over 100 were also arrested in the sweeps—overwhelmingly street-level dealers—and dozens of firearms reportedly seized. The operations were jointly carried out by National Police and Bulacan provincial authorities. Duterte expressed open enthusiasm for the bloodshed—and warned that it is just beginning.
“There were 32 killed in Bulacan in a massive raid, that’s good,” he said in a speech. “Let’s kill another 32 every day. Maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”
Bulacan has been a major target in Duterte’s drug war, with some 425 people killed and 4,000 arrested there since he took office last year—ahead of almost every other province outside Manila. But the same day also saw massive anti-drug operations in Manila that left 18 dead—a massive toll overshadowed by the greater bloodshed in Bulacan.
Duterte made his speech before leaders of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), his new anti-drug paramilitary network. In an unsubtle message to them, he also disparaged his own Commission on Human Rights chair Chito Gascon, calling him “ulol na mestizo,” which translates from Filipino slang roughly as “crazy fucking white boy.”
Duterte baited him as powerless: “And they make so much noise. What about the human rights? They can only make recommendations. They can write anything. Condemn the police, condemn everybody, when it comes to the recommendations, there’s nothing.”
And these horrific developments come as the government has announced mandatory random drug testing for all high school students, to start in September.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said, less than comfortingly: “We are for the best protection and safety of the students. This is not tokhang-tokhang. This is for [the students’] own good.”
Tokhang-tokhang is Filipino slang for summary execution of drug suspects—something so common there is now a vernacular word for it.
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