Philippine presidential candidate Duterte vows to 'butcher' criminals
President Rodrigo Duterte Reuters

Philippine police commandos killed six bodyguards of a town mayor, who was linked to the illegal drug trade in the country, on Wednesday.

The national police spokesman Dionardo Carlos told Reuters that when the police went to search Rolando Espinosa's house in the central town of Albuera there had been a gunbattle between the police and bodyguards.

Carlos said six bodyguards were killed but six other escaped. The police seized at least 17 firearms and rifle grenades inside the compound.

Espinosa, mayor of Albuera town, surrendered to the national police chief on Tuesday after President Duterte asked him to do so over his involvement in the drug trade. Duterte warned him and his son, Kerwin, that they would be killed if they resisted arrest.

"The incident this morning was related to the investigation on alleged drug trade by the mayor and his son," Carlos said. "Charges would be laid against the mayor for keeping unlicensed guns," he added.

Since Duterte was sworn in as president on June 30, almost 400 people have been killed in a crackdown against illegal drugs.

The raid at the mayor's house highlighted the shift in Duterte's anti-drug war from street pedlars to officials and powerful regional politicians.

The media and rights group have put the figure almost twice as high at 770, including more than 200 killed by vigilante groups.

The human rights groups have called on the United Nations to condemn the rise in extrajudicial killings in the Philippines as the recent number of drug-related killings has alarmed them.

The Philippine Senate is supposed to hold a legislative inquiry regarding this issue.