• World

Human-Rights Defenders Are Now in the Philippine President’s Crosshairs

2 minute read

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to kill human-rights activists who obstruct his bloody drug war during a speech at the presidential palace Monday.

Duterte gave a stark warning to those who accuse him of extrajudicial killings, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports. He said human-rights defenders would be responsible if the numbers of drug users increased.

“The human-rights [defenders] said I ordered the killings. I told them, ‘O.K. Let’s stop. We’ll let them [drug users] multiply so that when it’s harvest time, more people will die,’” the President said.

“I will include you because you are the reason why their numbers swell,” he added, referring to human-rights activists.

While saber rattling has been a perennial feature of Duterte’s presidency — he has directed profanity ridden tirades at various world leaders, which are often dialed back by members of his Cabinet — his drug war has killed at least 5,000 people since July 1, many of them at the hands of shadowy vigilante groups.

Although he continues to deny ordering extrajudicial killings, in a separate speech on Saturday, Duterte addressed drug users, saying: “If you go out, you sons of b-tches, I will kill you if I see you outside.”

Amid his latest slew of threats, the Inquirer reports that the President brandished a stack of documents he said contained a “validated list” of some 5,000 public officials with alleged links to the drug trade.

[Philippine Daily Inquirer]

More Must-Reads from TIME

Write to Joseph Hincks at joseph.hincks@time.com