Manila: The palace has its hands full on Friday in defence of President Rodrigo Duterte after he was perceived to have admitted to having “extrajudicial killings.”
During a speech he delivered at the presidential palace on Thursday during the 2018 Outstanding Government Workers awarding rites, the President said his only “sin” was “extrajudicial killings.”
“My only fault was extrajudicial killings,” the President said in a speech delivered in Tagalog.
Agnes Callamard, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions immediately branded the President’s admission as “extraordinary.”
“The extraordinary statement by a Head of State (and we have had many this week at the UN): my “only” sin is #EJK (extrajudicial killings) [could be taken to mean.] Translation: my only sin is imposing unthinkable sufferings on 1000s of vulnerable families, emboldening corrupt policing, destroying rule of law,” she said in her tweet.
For the Human Rights Watch (HRW), it interpreted the president’s quip as a tacit admission that extrajudicial killings happen in the country.
“The admission by President Rodrigo Duterte that he has committed a ‘sin’ (or fault) because of the extrajudicial killings committed in his “drug war” should prod the International Criminal Court to speed up its consideration of the cases filed against him for the killing of thousands of Filipinos,” said Brad Adams, HRW Asia Division Director.
The President, hard pressed at speaking Tagalog, which is not his native dialect being from Mindanao, had often been misinterpreted.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the president was simply being colourful in his speech to the point that he was leaving whatever he says to varying interpretations.
“The president, being himself, being playful, highlighting the point that he is not corrupt,” Roque said in an interview with dzRH.
National Police Director General Oscar Albayalde said the president must have blurted out the words “out of frustration” because despite government efforts, the problems on drugs persist.
“He might have said such because of his frustration that despite the largely successful campaign, the government is still being blamed for extrajudicial killings,” he said.
“Let me make this clear, and I have said this over and over again. The president has not given any order to kill suspects involved in drugs,” he said.
An independent survey conducted last June said the government’s drive against illegal drugs continues to enjoy strong support from Filipinos with 78 per cent of those polled saying they are satisfied with the campaign.
“The Second Quarter 2018 Social Weather Survey, fielded on June 27-30, 2018, found 78 per cent satisfied and 13 per cent dissatisfied with the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, for a net satisfaction rating of +65, classified by SWS as very good,” the Social Weather Stations (SWS), an independent pollster, said in a report released on Sunday.