Philippines

Duterte Vows to Kill His Son If Drug Allegations are True

The Philippines first son was allegedly linked to a massive meth trafficking ring.
Protesters burn a cube effigy with a face of President Rodrigo Duterte during a National Day of Protest outside the presidential palace in metro Manila, Philippines September 21, 2017. Photo by Romeo Ranoco/ Reuters

This article originally appeared on VICE News.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was uncharacteristically quiet when his eldest son's name was linked to a massive meth bust in May. After all, he'd once pledged to kill his own children if they were ever caught in the drug world. Would he now fulfill that campaign promise?

Duterte's answer on Wednesday: Yes I will. The Filipino strongman said he was ready to order police to kill his eldest son Paolo, if rumors about Paolo's involvement in drug trafficking proved true.

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"I told Pulong, my order is to kill you if you are caught, and I will protect the police who will kill you," Duterte said Wednesday, referring to his 42-year-old son by his nickname, Pulong. "That's better… so I can say to people: 'There, you keep talking. That's my son's corpse'."

The president's pledge to kill his own son was made in the course of remarks at an awards ceremony for civil servants in the capital.

Duterte's administration has already killed at least 7,000 people, mostly small-time drug users and dealers, in a bloody war on drugs that Human Rights Watch says may amount to crimes against humanity. Although still broadly popular, Duterte has faced rising criticism as the death toll continues to rise, including public protests on Thursday against the brutality and anti-democratic tendencies of his regime.

Duterte's bloody war on drugs took an ironic twist a few weeks ago, however, when it emerged that his own son may be linked to the drug game.

Paolo's name was mentioned during testimony in the Philippine senate about a shipment of 605 kilograms of methamphetamine from China in May, worth $125 million, which had been apprehended entering the country.

Mark Taguba, one of the men who helped arrange that shipment, testified he'd been told to provide cash to intermediaries as bribe money to local officials to help ensure the safe arrival of the cargo through customs.

Taguba said he'd received text messages, which were read aloud in the senate, claiming that the money would ultimately go to Paolo, who serves as vice mayor of the city of Davao. The messages also suggested the involvement of the president's son-in-law, Manases Carpio, who is married to the Duterte's daughter, Sara, the mayor of Davao.

Taguba said that the payments successfully helped the cargo containers avoid being flagged by customs for inspection. Taguba, a customs broker, later released a statement clarifying that he never met with Paolo or Manases, couldn't testify they were really involved and that the evidence against them was "hearsay in nature." He also apologized to the Duterte family.

But Taguba's clarification didn't put Paolo and Manases in the clear because Taguba didn't recant receiving the text messages, opposition politician Antonio Trillanes said.

"The text messages he read aloud which named Paolo Duterte and Mans Carpio were never forced on him and neither were they fabricated," Trillanes wrote on his Facebook page. "Therefore, Mr. Taguba's clarification doesn't change anything."

Paolo and Carpio deny all wrong-doing.