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AP Photo/Aaron Favila
World News

Catholic Church concerned as Filipino president links 150 to drugs

by Hannah Tooley

The crackdown has been one of the biggest and most violent in the Philippines' recent history.

It has alarmed human rights groups and the dominant Roman Catholic Church (almost 90% of the population is Catholic).

However, President Duterte has dismissed their concerns and has openly threatened to kill crime suspects and assured law enforcers he would defend them if they face lawsuits while battling crime.

Over the weekend, he revoked the gun licences of those accused and asked them to surrender for investigation after identifying them in a nationally televised speech.

He also fired the members of the military and police that he named and shamed.

So far, his war on drugs has left more than 400 dead and 4,400 arrested.

A further 600,000 people have surrendered to authorities.

President Duterte added that he will take full responsibility if any of those he named turns out to be innocent.

He said: "All military and police who are attached to these people, I'm giving you 24 hours to report to your mother unit or I will whack you. I'll dismiss you from the service."

"I would like to say now, they will never go to prison, not under my watch," he said.

He was elected president in June 2016 and has been in conflict with the Catholic Church over his pro-contraception stance and views on removing criminals.

He also broke the law during his campaign after 'joking' about a Christian missionary who was raped and murdered in the country.

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