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Duterte sorry for innocent killed in war on drugs

President Duterte admitted that some children ended up being “collateral damage” of his anti-drug campaign. The president has drawn flak for the spate of killings linked to war on drugs. ACE MORANDANTE/PPD, File
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte apologized Thursday for the innocent people who were killed in his brutal war on narcotics as he stressed that the crackdown would only stop until the last drug personality is killed or placed behind bars.
 
Duterte, who has drawn flak for the spate of killings linked to his war on drugs, admitted that some children ended up being “collateral damage” of his anti-narcotics campaign.
 
“I would admit there were killings that were really unintended, like the children who were caught in a crossfire. Collateral damage, and I'm sorry,” the president told ABS-CBN News in an interview.  
 
“There has to be a casualty and there has to be some drawbacks there,” he added.
 
In an interview with CNN Philippines also Thursday, Duterte said security forces have no criminal liability if some innocent people are harmed in a crossfire.
 
“You want the killings to stop in the Philippines, foreigners and natives should stop drugs. You stop this and everything will be okay. We can concentrate on other things of government,” he said.
 
More than 6,000 people believed to have links with illegal drugs have been killed since Duterte assumed the presidency on June 30.
 
Critics claimed that Duterte’s war on drugs has emboldened security forces and vigilante groups to carry out extrajudicial killings. The United Nations, the United States, the European Union and human rights advocates have raised concerns over the killings and have asked Duterte to ensure that the rule of law is respected in all law enforcement operations.
 
The president maintained that he does not endorse or condone summary executions.  
 
“There are vigilantes out to kill drug pushers without mercy,” he said.
 
Despite the rising number of fatalities linked to his war on drugs, Duterte said he is not yet satisfied with the gains of the campaign.
 
“Until the last pusher is out of the street, I’ll be very frank with you, until the last drug lord is killed, this campaign will continue until the very last day of my term,” he said.
 
During the campaign period, Duterte vowed to put an end to the drug problem within the first six months of his term. The president, admitted though last September that he cannot fulfill the promise because of the large number of drug addicts and officials involved in narcotics. He said he needs another six months to address the drug problem, which he said has contaminated four million people.  
 
The president previously said that the drug list submitted to him by security forces contains the names of about 2,000 barangay captains, municipal mayors, a few governors and congressmen. 
 
Duterte has linked about 160 incumbent and former government officials to the narcotics trade. The president has given the House of Representatives, Senate and the Supreme Court copies of the drug list, admitting that he cannot solve the drug menace by himself.
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