Despite concerns raised by human rights groups on drug-related killings, President Duterte stood firm in his stance not to apologize to the deaths that resulted from his administration’s drug war.
In his televised address to the nation, Duterte said he will “never apologize” for the fatalities of those involved in the illegal drug activities.
“Pero ‘yan ang sabi ko (But that’s what I’ve said), I will never, never apologize for the death of those bastards. Patayin mo ako, kulungin mo ako, p***** i**(Kill me, imprison me, I will never apologize),” he said during his late-night “Talk to the People” aired on Tuesday night, Jan. 4.
The Chief Executive explained that no apology will come from him because of his campaign promise to fight illegal drugs and criminality.
“Ano ang pangako ko (What is my promise)? Law and order. Drugs, sabi ko, mag-focus ako sa drugs (I said, I’ll focus on drugs),” Duterte added.
In the 2016 elections, he won on the promise that he will end criminality and drugs in three to six months.
One of his first orders upon arriving in Malacañang is to form the Oplan Tokhang campaign that, as alleged by critics, led to thousands of extrajudicial killings, most of which are small-time drug peddlers. Casualties of the drug war also included minors and infants.
The bloody drug war led to the filing of a crimes against humanity case against Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is expected to resume the investigation into the campaign soon.
The President shared that he offers assistance to the police and military who are being charged in line with their conduct of duties.
“Try being the policeman. Hindi madali, tapos mademanda pa ‘yung mga pulis. Marami diyan nademanda sa ano (It is not easy, then the policemen will face charges. Many of them are being charged for what),” he said.
“So I’m helping them. Every military or police officer who is facing charges for a crime connected with the performance of his duties, tinutulungan ko (I’m helping them). Wala akong (I have no) —without exception,” Duterte noted.
About 6,117 suspected drug dealers and users have been killed in the name of the government’s drug war as of April 2021, official records showed.
Human rights activists, however, said the actual number could be as high as 30,000.
The tough-talking President reiterated that he does not recognize the ICC and he will only face a Philippine Court with a Filipino judge.
“Trial tayo, pero ako (Let’s go to trial, but) I’m a Filipino. If I go to jail, I go to Bilibid, Pilipino ako eh (because I’m a Filipino). If there is somebody who would try me, it should be a judge who is a Filipino because I’m a Filipino,” he said.
The ICC authorized an investigation into the Duterte administration’s drug war but this was later deferred.