By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte made “no admission” that he was behind extrajudicial killings.
“Let us be clear and put into proper context the President’s remarks on extrajudicial killings,”Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.
“First, there is no admission on the part of the President. He merely wants to underscore the point that he has not been accused of corruption nor has he engaged in a political vendetta. All the critics and detractors can allege are killings attributed to his drug war,” he added.
Addressing new career executive service officers who took their oaths in Malacañang Thursday, the President stressed he did not steal a single centavo from government.
“What are my sins? Did I steal money? Even just a peso? Did I prosecute na pinakulong ko (then send someone to prison)? Angkasalanankolang, ‘yung mga (My only sin are the) extrajudicial killings,” he said, a statement that was taken by critics as “admission” in relation to extrajudicial killings and vowed to make him accountable.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo came to the President’s defense.
He said Dutertewas just explaining that the only issue his critics could use against him is the extrajudicial killings.
“That’s why if he (Duterte) said ‘my only sin is extrajudicial killings.’ The only issue against him as President is extrajudicial killings. That’s the meaning of it,” Panelo said in a radio interview.
Present day scourge
Roque said the President recognizes that there have been many casualties in his drug campaign but not all were caused by abusive law enforcers.
“The President recognizes and feels it is unfortunate the incidence and increase of drug-related deaths in the country. However, we must emphasize that most of the killings, although drug-related, did not result as part of any police operation,” he said.
“As for those which resulted as a consequence of such, we maintain that police authorities also have the right to protect themselves from violent resistance,” he added.
Roque also said the President is unlikely to put an end to the controversial campaign against illegal drugs.
“The President remains steadfast in the belief that one of the country’s greatest ills is the rampant use, sale and distribution of illicit drugs, which is why he led with this campaign promise during the elections, for which the Filipino elected him with more than 16 million votes,” he said.
“The President knows fully well that his policy on the war on drugs is necessary, even saying that he is willing to sacrifice his life, his honor, even the presidency to fulfill his electoral vow,” he added.
“The intention of the drug war is to save the youth of this country. The President therefore has to weigh the interests of the many against those of the few,” Roque noted. (With a report from PNA)