President Rodrigo Duterte expressed his satisfaction with the new spike in drug killings and reassured law enforcers on Thursday they will not rot in jail if they get entangled in lawsuits.
"If the police and the military get into trouble in connection with the performance of duty, you can expect, I really won't agree for you to be jailed," Duterte said to applause from police officers.
While he acknowledged it may be tough for him to bring the drug menace under control during the rest of his six-year term, Duterte said the deadly crackdown would continue without letup. He announced rewards of 2 million pesos ($40,000) for each drug-linked police officer who would be killed.
"You policemen who are into drugs ... the bounty I'm offering for your head is 2 million. No questions asked. I will not ask who killed you," Duterte told police officers in southern Ozamiz city. "I want you ... dead."
Twenty-six drug suspects were killed and more than 70 others arrested across the congested city in overnight police assaults, said Manila police Chief Superintendent Joel Napoleon Coronel. More than 70 others were arrested in the raids.
The deaths followed the killings of 32 suspects in separate police anti-drug raids Tuesday in Bulacan province north of Manila. The police operations took place under Duterte's notoriously bloody campaign that has horrified rights groups and sparked a complaint of mass murder against Duterte before the International Criminal Court. The complaint is pending.
Police records show that since the nationwide crackdown started, more than 3,200 alleged drug offenders have been killed in gunbattles with law enforcers. More than 2,000 others died in drug-related killings, including attacks by motorcycle-riding masked gunmen and other assaults.
Human rights groups report a higher toll and demand an independent investigation into Duterte's possible role in the violence.