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I’ve never killed anyone – Duterte

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Iâve never killed anyone â Duterte
President Duterte speaks during an IATF meeting at Malacañang the other day.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Has President Duterte killed or ordered the execution of anybody, including criminals?

This question cropped up yesterday after Duetrte claimed he has not ordered anybody killed.

In previous public addresses, Duterte had admitted killing people personally – specifically the “bad guys” – and that he would not hesitate to kill drug suspects because they destroy the very “fiber” of the nation.

Speaking in a delayed telecast late Monday, the 75-year-old leader claimed to have not killed anyone in his lifetime. Washing his hands of any criminal wrongdoing, Duterte said he has chosen always to err on the side of the rule of law.

“My job is to see to it that the rule of law – the rules for or against a person – are followed. At maraming sinasabi (And many are saying) ‘rule of law,’ hindi ka naman sumusunod, marami kang pinapatay (You’re not following it, you’re killing people).’ Wala ho akong pinatay na tao (I haven’t killed anyone),” he said.

In response to human rights groups’ calling his attention to his admission of murders, Duterte or his officials would only say he was just joking.

Yesterday, Duterte again vehemently denied that he was behind extrajudicial killings of suspected drug lords and hardened criminals since becoming a government official, first as Davao City mayor.

Duterte said his officials and old allies Interior and Local Government Sec. Eduardo Año and Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana could attest to his claim that he had never ordered the killing of anyone.

“I never do that and if I – I do not – I just keep it in my mind because I know that whether I like it or not, there is a war going on. I cannot stop killing – the killing of criminals and the killing of my soldiers and policemen,” he said.

“For after all, marami rin akong patay na pulis at marami akong napatay na sundalo (many police and soldiers have been killed), not necessarily in connection with the war against the Abu Sayyaf, but it is included and during the Marawi siege, kasali ‘yan,” Duterte said.

He again expressed concern over reports of proliferation of illegal drugs despite the COVID-19 problem. “And once again, I am reminding whoever is in charge of these things, I will make a visit to the facilities saan ninyo tinatago ang droga (where you hide the drugs),” he added.

A former prosecutor, Duterte said he hopes evidence – such as drugs and other illegal substances – can be immediately destroyed so that people would not be tempted to use or sell them.

Duterte also ordered forensic experts to make sure there is proper documentation of evidence.

Human rights groups said it was “self-serving and utterly without basis” for Duterte to claim that thousands of extrajudicial killings since 2016 are a result of rivalry between drug syndicates.

“The ‘hearing’ he claimed to conduct to arrive at this far-fetched conclusion was never disclosed to the public, raising questions about whether it ever happened at all,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

“If Duterte had serious doubts about the conduct of the police, all he needed to do was announce a thorough, credible investigation. Instead, he made sure that experienced international investigators, such as the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard, were not permitted to set foot in the Philippines,” Robertson said.

“No one should forget that the ‘drug war’ killings took place immediately after Duterte was elected as president in 2016. Since then, thousands have died and with the exception of the case of Kian de los Santos, there has been no successful prosecution of either police officers or mysterious civilian killers,” he added.

“Once again, Duterte is manufacturing a story, or ‘fake news’ to use the moniker he likes to use, to divert attention from killers in the ranks of the police to so-called drug syndicates. No one should be fooled by the President’s latest ruse,” Robertson said. –Rhodina Villanueva

PRESIDENT DUTERTE

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