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Thousands Of Drug Suspects Surrender In Philippines

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Over 3,800 turn themselves in to police in southern Mindanao alone ahead of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s inauguration

Thousands of drug suspects have surrendered to Philippine police ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, who has offered a bounty to officers who capture drug dealers “dead or alive”.

The Philippine Star reported Wednesday that of the around 4,000 people who turned themselves in, more than 3,800 did so in central provinces in southern Mindanao island -- from where Duterte hails.

Since the May 9 election was won by Duterte, who served seven terms as the mayor of southern Davao City, over 60 drug suspects have been killed and 3,700 others arrested as of June 20, according to police figures.

News broadcaster ABS-CBN also quoted Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, Philippine National Police spokesman, as saying that intensified operations against drug networks is “largely due” to Duterte's key campaign pledge to eradicate -- or “suppress” -- crime in three to six months.

Rights groups and the Catholic Church in the Philippines have expressed concern over the rise in shootings of suspects who police say resisted arrest, with some activists saying that those being reined in are primarily low-ranked dealers.

The latest fatalities were two men allegedly involved in illegal drug operations in the northern Calabarzon region who were reportedly killed in a shootout with police in Rizal province Tuesday.

The Star quoted Rizal’s police director, Supt. Adriano Enong Jr., as saying that the men fired at officers while attempting to evade a checkpoint that was set up following reports that the suspects stole a van in Angono town.

Duterte, who is set to be inaugurated Thursday, has also suggested that security and government officials will not be immune in the anti-drug crackdown, warning against the threat of “narco-politics” in the country.

Sr. Supt. Debold M. Sinas, deputy regional director for operations at Police Regional Office 9, confirmed to Anadolu Agency on Wednesday that 20 officers in the Zamboanga region were recently dismissed after being found positive for drug use during random testing.

After Duterte won the May polls on a crime-fighting campaign, he vowed to work toward re-imposing the death penalty and has been extremely vocal about eradicating the Philippines of illegal drugs, urging citizens with guns to shoot and kill drug dealers who resist arrest and fight back.

In Duterte's 22 years as mayor of Davao, the city transformed from a crime-ridden hovel to a peaceful and investment-friendly city, where he imposed bans on public smoking, and the selling of alcohol and the operation of entertainment spots past midnight.

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