Camp Crame, Quezon City, the Philippines (CNN)Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has another list of officials he says are connected to the drug trade, the national police chief said.
Duterte will release the names of “police officers, politicians (and) prosecutors” who have ties to the illegal drug trade, national police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa told CNN’s Ivan Watson.
The President is the only one who knows when the list will be made public, or how many names are on it, Dela Rosa said.
“Either they are drug lords themselves or are drug protectors,” he said.
He added the list is based on “pure” intelligence reports validated by intelligence units of the Philippines national police, the nation’s drug enforcement agency and the country’s military.
Duterte, who took office at the end of June, has aggressively pursued an anti-crime agenda — with a special focus on ridding the country of illegal drugs.
Drugs threat to national security
Dela Rosa says he and the President consider drugs to be the “number one” threat to national security.
Earlier this month, Duterte previously read out a list of more than 150 officials’ names who he says are implicated in the drug trade. He’s come under fire for the so-called “name and shame” tactic by critics who say it violates the principle of presumed innocence.
Dela Rosa said he agrees it contradicts the principle that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty, but the President feels it is his “duty” to inform the public of the identities of corrupt officials.
Judge dead for years on list
The policy was cast into even starker light when it emerged the name of a judge who died eight years ago was read out during the previous televised speech in August.
Dela Rosa said even though the intelligence appeared to include at least one long-dead official, the judge belonged on the list because of his past crimes.
He said he could vouch for the national police intelligence, but not that of other agencies.
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized the Duterte administration’s heavy-handed approach and say the methods apparently sanctioned by the government have resulted in hundreds of extrajudicial killings.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s “Kill List,” regarded as one of the most accurate records of the killings of suspected drug dealers in police engagements and by vigilantes, recorded the deaths of 693 people suspected of drug crimes between June 30, the day Duterte assumed office, and August 15.
Dela Rosa is due to appear before the country’s senate next week for hearings on the spate of killings. He said 600 people have been killed by police during “legitimate drug operations.”
Hundreds of thousands more users have voluntarily registered with their local neighborhood councils under an informal policy implemented nationwide by Dela Rosa, who was appointed by Duterte in July after the new administration assumed office.
Critics of the crackdown say the civil liberties of those surrendering are being ignored, and the policy amounts to a de facto arrest that targets poor Filipinos. Dela Rosa argues the policy does not violate citizens’ rights.
Duterte enjoys incredibly high approval ratings 91% in one July poll. Dela Rosa attributes the high ratings to ordinary Filipinos’ frustration with high crime rates and his tough stance on the issue.