MANILA, Philippines — “The recent killings apparently targeting the youth should be viewed with suspicion and urgency” as these could be the handiwork of “malignant elements” out to “sabotage” the government’s war on drugs, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Saturday.
A day earlier, at the 17th founding anniversary of Digos, Davao del Sur, President Rodrigo Duterte himself claimed the killings of Kian Lloyd delos Santos, 17, Carl Arnaiz, 19, and Reynaldo de Guzman, 14, were “sabotage.”
The successive killings have sparked widespread indignation against Duterte’s anti-narcotics campaign, estimated to have claimed more than 13,000 lives since last year, as critics saying the chief executive’s often incendiary words, liberally sprinkled by exhortations to kill, and assurances of protection to security forces are virtual marching orders to commit atrocities.
“Silipin mong mabuti kasi … sinasabotahe kayo (Look into these closely because you’re being sabotaged),” Duterte ordered Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa.
However, the Caloocan police have acknowledged separately killing Delos Santos and Arnaiz, supposedly after both young men shot it out with officers. However, subsequent investigations indicate they are likely to have been executed.
On the other hand, the body of De Guzman, who went missing at the same time as his friend Arnaiz, was found in Gapan, Nueva Ecija, head wrapped in packing tape and at least 30 stab wounds in the body.
Expounding on Duterte’s claim, Abella said: “The President’s campaign against illegal drugs has adversely affected many, including powerful narco-politicians and deep pocketed drug lords who flourished prior to this administration.”
“It should not come as a surprise that these malignant elements would conspire to sabotage the President’s campaign to rid the Philippines of illegal drugs and criminality, the centerpiece program of the administration, to succeed; which may include creating scenarios stoking public anger against the government,” he added.