MANILA, Aug. 29 (UPI) -- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has placed a bounty on the heads of Philippine National Police members who are protecting the drug trade.
Duterte's bounty elevates the "war on drugs" he began since he was elected president in May and assumed the presidency in June. The bounty reward is 2 million Philippine Pesos, or about $43,000.
"I will be harsh as I can ever be. I will not relent. The campaign will be continuous. I will finish this war against corruption, drugs and crime," Duterte said in a speech Sunday. "I am inclined to place a reward on their head, the members of the PNP who are protecting drug syndicates in this country."
Duterte, 71, who served as the mayor of Davao City for 22 years, ran on an anti-crime platform that appealed to the country's upper and middle classes who fear rising criminality. He said he would establish a ruthless administration that would eradicate crime syndicates in the first six months of his tenure. He seemingly is working to keep his campaign promise.
Duterte's administration has been criticized by organizations, including the United Nations, for the drug crackdown that has killed more than 2,000 people.
PNP Chief Ronald Dela Rosa, who is in charge of the Philippines' deadly anti-drug war, said in a recent hearing that since Duterte took office on June 30, 756 were drug suspects killed by police and 1,160 were killed "outside police operations" -- many of them by vigilantes. Not all the killings were drug-related, Dela Rosa added.