Palace: Drug war civilian casualties not targeted, just 'collateral damage'

Malacañang rejected suggestions that crimes against humanity were committed in the course of President Duterte's bloody drug war, saying they were merely "collateral damage."

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after outgoing International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested a full investigation into the drug war killings as crimes against humanity could have committed.

In an interview with ANC's "Rundown" on Wednesday, June 16, Roque said a crime against humanity should have a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population with the knowledge that it is being directed against them.

"The reality is the alleged killings arising from the drug war were not killings intended to target civilians as such," he said.

"They were collateral damage so to speak arising from a valid police operation to deal with the growing threat of drugs," he added.

Roque reiterated that Bensouda's request for full investigation violates the principle of complementarity since the country has a working legal system that has convicted those law enforcers that were proven to be responsible for some killings, including that of Kian delos Santos in Caloocan City in August 2017.

"We have a working legal system here. Many of those have been convicted... The most popular of which is Kian," he said.

"This shows that our domestic legal system is functioning," he added.

The Palace official, meanwhile, urged those who have evidence of drug war killings to submit affidavits to the fiscal to prompt an investigation.

"In the same way that they can submit those affidavits to the ICC, they should submit it to the local fiscals because the fiscals are now investigating it," Roque said.

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) is in the process of investigating these cases right now," he added.

Roque assured the public that President Duterte will not condone the men in uniform who commit crimes. He likewise asked them to file complaints if they feel they were victims of abuses.

"He (President Duterte) has given the public an opportunity to file their complaints, there are ongoing investigations at the DOJ now," he said.

"If there's anyone who feels that they are victims, the President has repeatedly said that he will not countenance police action that violates the law but will support them when they're on the right," he added.