Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking mayor from the southern Philippines and front-runner in the country’s May 9 presidential elections, declared a “bloody war” against criminals and drug lords in a speech Wednesday, pledging to make fighting crime a cornerstone of his administration.
Promising to put 3,000 more police on the streets and double salaries for the police and military, Duterte blamed criminals for destroying the Philippines and said that if he was elected president voters would begin to see a difference within six months.
“Peace and order is the foundation through which progress can be made,” Duterte told a business leaders forum in Manila. “I will make this place peaceful for you.” Pledging to end corruption by running a government that was “clean as in clean, down to villages”, Duterte said that if criminals put up any resistance, “I will simply say, ’kill all of them’.”
According to the latest opinion poll, Duterte, 71, who has said summary executions are an effective weapon fighting crime, was leading the field of five candidates with 35 percent support, with Senator Grace Poe in second place with 23 percent, followed by former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas at 17 percent and Vice President Jejomar Binay with 16 percent.
Seeking to ease business concerns about his economic agenda, which has been largely obscured by a litany of controversial remarks on crime including saying he should have been first in line when an Australian missionary was gang raped, Duterte vowed to continue the economic policies laid down by former president Gloria Arroyo and the man he is hoping to succeed, Benigno Aquino. On the question of whether he would allow greater foreign ownership in the Philippines, Duterte said he would consult with business leaders after the election.
He also listed spending on health, education and agriculture as his other main priorities, and said that while a single six-year term may not be long enough, he would try to solve Manila’s chronic traffic problems with continued infrastructure investment. In an effort to foster small business enterprise, Duterte said he would allocate 1 billion pesos ($21.3 million) to each of the 18 Philippine regions.
Statistics: Foreign Drug Gangs Grow in the Philippines
Sophisticated foreign-based drug trafficking syndicates remain the biggest challenge to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and other law enforcement units engaged in the campaign against illegal drugs valued at over $8.4 billion (about P368.2 billion) a year.
From only three in 2008, the number of transnational drug organizations operating in the Philippines has increased dramatically, according to the United States’ State Department’s 2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.
“The West African drugs syndicate continues to infiltrate the Philippines with their operations. There is an increase in the recruitment of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) to smuggle cocaine and heroin in and out of the country,” said the report.
Chinese drug trafficking organizations continue to dominate the methamphetamine trade in the Philippines.
However, there are continued indications of the presence of Mexican drug trafficking organizations operating in the Philippines as well as Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs from Europe and the United States. During follow up investigations to the December 2013 seizure of 83 kg of Mexican sourced methamphetamine, PDEA officials conducted several multi kilogram methamphetamine seizures which chemical analysis determined to be from the same Mexican origin.
Bad Reputation of Foreign Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs
The groups are serious criminal organizations — including one that the FBI alleges is among the largest outlaw motorcycle gangs in the USA.
The NBI says that the Outlaws MC is one of the largest outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) in the USA, with about 900 members and 80 chapters. The group itself says it has over 200 chapters with more than 2,500 members in 16 countries.
The NBI says OMGs such as the Outlaws “pose a serious national domestic threat.” It defines them as “organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises” including drug trafficking, prostitution and human trafficking.