Some of the dead were killed in gunfights with police; others mysteriously turned up on the street. One was dumped with a sign that read: “Don’t follow me or you’ll die next.”
The numbers of bodies have spiked since Duterte swept the May 9 elections on promises to wipe out crime and corruption within six months.
That bold pledge won him huge support but also sparked concerns about vigilante justice and a lack of due process.
Nicknamed “Duterte Harry” after Clint Eastwood’s character, he says he plans to fulfil his promise despite criticism from human rights advocates and church officials and dares his critics to impeach him.
“If I couldn’t convince you, I’ll have you killed. Just imagine if I kill 10 persons a day for the next six years,” he was quoted as saying by Cebu Daily News in his native Visayan language, referring to drug suspects.
“If you’re into drugs, I’m sorry. I’ll have to apologise to your family because you’ll surely get killed.”
So far, the threats seem to be working to some extent: Hundreds of drug pushers and addicts have surrendered to police in recent days, signing pledges to reform.
Police data show 39 mostly drug-peddler suspects were killed since the start of the year until the election. Some 72 have been killed since then.
Nearly 5,000 suspects have been arrested in anti-drug operations since the election, bringing the number of arrests in a nationwide drive to nearly 19,000 since January.