By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo, an opposition leader, said that President Duterte’s admission that his only sin was extrajudicial killings confirmed that it really exists and happens in his administration’s anti-drug campaign.
“Unang-unang matagal na may debate tungkol dun. Maraming tao nagsasabi may extrajudicial killings. Ang pamahalaan sinasabi wala. Parang confirmation na tama nga ‘yun mga tumutuligsa na marami talagang mga pagpapatay na labag sa batas (First of all, that’s long been debated. A lot of people say extrajudicial killings exist. The government denies it. It seems to be a confirmation that the critics are right in saying that a lot of these killings are above the law),” she said.
Robredo, a longtime human rights lawyer, gave her reaction to what many critics of the administration say is a public confession of Duterte that his only sin involved extrajudicial killings during her weekly radio, “BISErbisyong Leni.”
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque already downplayed Duterte’s remarks, saying the Chief Executive was “not serious” and he made “no admission” that he was behind extrajudicial killings.
But for Robredo, she found it insulting for the families who lost their loved ones to EJKs when Roque apparently implied that the President was not serious in his public admission.
The Vice President is a staunch critic of Duterte’s bloody drug war, where thousands of drug suspects have been killed in legitimate police operations and vigilante-style killings nationwide.
“Hindi mo dapat hindi sineseryoso iyon kasi maraming buhay ang nakitil dahil dun. Maraming mga asawa, maraming mga anak na naulila dahil sa extrajudicial killings tapos sasambitin na parang wala lang (You’re not supposed to be not serious about it because a lot of lives were lost. A lot of spouses, a lot of children were left mourning because of extrajudicial killings, and they don’t deserve empty remarks),” she said.
Robredo cited Duterte’s admission of EJKs can be used as evidence to support the complaints filed against him before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a ground for his impeachment from office.
“Wala nang mas malakas ng ebidensya kundi ’yung pag-amin. Iyon na mismo na ebidensya (There is no stronger piece of evidence than a confession. That in itself is evidence),” she said. “Kung tanong siya ay ground for impeachment, definitely (Question: Is it a ground for impeachment? Definitely),” the Vice President added.
Duterte is facing two counts of crimes against humanity before the ICC for the alleged drug-related killings.
Former solicitor general Florin Hilbay said Duterte’s statement on EJKs should be immediately brought up to the international tribunal so it can decide on whether to prosecute him.