The president of the Philippines has released a list of more than 150 judges, mayors, lawmakers and military personnel he says are linked to the illicit drug trade.
Rodrigo Duterte revoked the gun licenses of anyone on the list and advised them to turn themselves in by Monday for an investigation to clear their names.
The controversial leader, in his nationally televised address Sunday, also ordered police and military personnel that had been assigned to protect some of those on the list to withdraw back to their units.
Since Duterte took office at the end of June, his war against drugs have left hundreds of suspected drug dealers dead and thousands more arrested, while hundreds of thousands have turned themselves in to authorities.
Duterte was known for ruthlessly enforcing drug laws when he was mayor of Davao, the second largest Philippine city. He has vowed as president to do the same for the country to deal with the illegal drug trade.
The president said he will take full responsibility if any named on the list turns out to be innocent.
In his inaugural speech on June 30, Duterte pledged to rout corruption and drugs. Using his characteristically sharp language, he also took on the widespread suspicion that he had deployed death squads to enforce order in Davao.
“I know that there are some who do not approve of my methods of fighting criminality, drugs and corruption,” he said. “In response, let me say that I have seen how corruption works. I have seen how illegal drugs ruin individuals and relationships…I have seen how corruption bled government funds.”
“As a lawyer and former prosecutor, I know the limits of the powers of the president,” he added. “You mind your work and I will mind mine. I know what is legal and what is not.”
As mayor of Davao for 22 years, the man known for profanity and threats when outraged about an issue, brought down crime by being unpredictable, according to Davao spokesman Leo Villareal in a comment he made when Duterte took office.
Some material for this report came from AP.