Palace: Duterte ‘not serious’ when he said EJKs 'his only sin'

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Palace: Duterte ânot seriousâ when he said EJKs 'his only sin'
In a speech Thursday, the chief executive appeared to have admitted that EJKs had happened in his two-years in office. He, however, did not elaborate.
Presidential Photo / Robinson Niñal

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte was only making yet another spontaneous remark when he said for the first time that his “only sin” is the spate of the extrajudicial killings being linked to the Duterte administration.

In a speech Thursday, the chief executive appeared to have admitted that EJKs have happened in his two years in office. He, however, did not elaborate.

The government has alternated between denying that extrajudicial killings happen—the Philippine National Police's official count is zero under the Duterte administration—and that they happen but that vigilantes and drug syndicates are behind the deaths

“I told the military: ‘What are my sins?’ Did I steal money? Even just one peso? Did I prosecute somebody I sent to jail? Ang kasalanan ko lang ‘yung mga extrajudicial killing,” Duterte said.

Callamard: Extraordinary statement by a head of state

Critics said his statement was an admission of guilt, saying it would help the case against Duterte filed before the International Criminal Court that is under preliminary examination.

“Extraordinary statement by a head of state (and we have had many this week at the UN): my “only” sin is EJK. Translation: my only sin is imposing unthinkable suffering on 1000s of vulnerable families, emboldening corrupt policing, destroying rule of law,” Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, posted on Twitter.

'President was just being playful'

In defending the president, Malacañang used the oft-repeated explanation that Duterte was not serious when he made the statement.

“Well, alam mo naman si presidente, ano. Hindi na naman iyan seryoso ‘no. Sinasabi lang niya iyan, kasi nga palaging sinasabi iyan ang ginagawa niya ano,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a radio interview Friday.

(You know the president. He wasn't serious. He was just saying that because that's what [critics] always say he does, no?)

Roque noted that Duterte was only “being himself, being playful” and “highlighting the point that he is not corrupt.”

“I don’t think na ang konteksto niyan ay literal (I don't think the context of that is literal),” he said.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said the president meant that the only issue against him was the spate of extrajudicial killings under his leadership. 

“Kaya kapag sinabi niyang ang kasalanan ko lang ay extrajudicial killing, ibig sabihin, ang isyu lang sa akin bilang president ay extrajudicial killing. Iyon ang ibig sabihin nun,” Panelo—who conducted a question-and-answer session with the president on September 11 to "expound his views, his positions on many things"—said in a radio interview Friday. 

(So, when he said 'my only sin is extrajudicial killing', that means 'the only issue thrown against me as president is extrajudicial killing' That's what it means.) 


When asked if Duterte’s supposed admission was self-incriminating, the president’s mouthpiece replied in negative.

“In the first place, hindi naman iyan isang sinumpaang salaysay ‘no, so paano sasabihing self-incriminating iyan.”

Duterte’s ferocious war on drugs has left more than 12,000 people dead. But the government downplays this figure, counting a little more than 4,000 casualties.

The Hague-based ICC has started it preliminary examination tied to Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs. The government responded by withdrawing the Philippines’ ratification of the Rome Statute, the treaty that established the ICC.



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