A Philippine mayor criticized for drug trafficking was executed along with his nine bodyguards in a shoot-out with police Friday.
Samsudin Dimaukom, who was the mayor of Saudi Ampatuan, was one of more than 150 local government officials, judges, and police named by Duterte earlier this year as being “connected” to the illegal drug business.
Dimaukom became famous after financing the construction of a pink mosque in Saudi Ampatuan in an appeal for peace in the town which has been battered by violence.
Muslim rebels have been conducting a separatist insurgency in the southern Philippines for decades.
His execution comes just hours after President Rodrigo Duterte warned he would strengthen his crackdown on so-called crime.
The violent “crime war” has taken more than 3,800 lives and attracted criticism from the United States, the United Nations, and international rights groups who have denounced police for executing suspects without proper due process.
Police spokesman Superintendent Romeo Galgo announced that Dimaukom and his security personnel initiated fire after anti-narcotics police halted their vehicles at a checkpoint on suspicion they were carrying illegal drugs.
Officers exchanged fire, shooting the men in the town of Makilala, which is about 950 kilometers (600 miles) south of the capital Manila. “Suspects (were) heavily armed and fired upon the law enforcers, which provoked them to fire back,” Galgo said.
Duterte, who swept to power in May elections on a promise to destroy drugs, has labeled his detractors as “fools” and declared he is not violating any domestic laws by threatening to kill criminals.
After returning from a trip to Japan late Thursday, he warned to step up police killings of drug suspects.
“If my wish to get rid (of illegal drugs) in my country is not granted, you can expect about 20,000 or 30,000 more. There is a war going on,” he said.
(Additional reporting by AFP)