MANILA: A Philippine mayor named as being involved in the narcotics trade was shot dead in a police raid Sunday, authorities said, the latest official to be killed since President Rodrigo Duterte launched a drug war.
Duterte has singled out local officials, policemen and judges as part of a crackdown that has made him popular with many Filipinos but has been condemned by human rights groups and other critics.
Among those Duterte named was Reynaldo Parojinog, mayor of Ozamiz city, who was killed along with 11 others in a dawn raid on his home, police said.
“Police were serving a search warrant when the security guards of the mayor fired at them so our policemen retaliated,” police regional spokesman Superintendent Lemuel Gonda told AFP.
Officers recovered grenades, ammunition as well as illegal drugs in the raid, according to police provincial chief Jaysen De Guzman.
Duterte won the presidency last year promising to kill tens of thousands of criminals to prevent the Philippines from becoming a narco-state.
Since he took office, police have reported killing nearly 3,200 people in the drug war.
More than 2,000 other people have been killed in drug-related crimes, according to police data.
Rights groups say many of those victims have been killed by vigilante death squads linked to the government, and that Duterte may be overseeing a crime against humanity.
In a speech last year, Duterte said Parojinog was among mayors involved in the illegal drug trade.
Police said Sunday they had conducted surveillance on Parojinog based on the president’s remarks.
“He has many security personnel who carry unlicensed firearms,” regional police chief Timoteo Pacleb told radio DZMM.
Two other mayors Duterte mentioned in his so-called “drug list” were killed last year.
In November, Rolando Espinosa, the mayor of Albuera town, was killed during a night-time raid in a provincial jail.
Duterte had defended the officers involved in the raid and ordered their reinstatement, with critics saying the decision would worsen the nation’s “culture of impunity”.
In October, Samsudin Dimaukom, the mayor of the southern town of Saudi Ampatuan, was killed in a shoot-out in a police checkpoint on suspicion he and his security personnel were transporting illegal drugs, authorities said.