MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night bared that he ordered a discreet probe into extrajudicial killings being blamed on his administration.
Duterte, who has been criticized for his aggressive crackdown on illegal drugs, said the results of the investigation showed that the murders were not state-sponsored as human rights groups claimed.
“This extrajudicial killing they have been harping for many years truthfully ha, truthfully, nagdududa rin ako (I had my doubts) and there was a time when I conducted a discreet hearing,” he said in his weekly Talk to the People after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang.
He pointed out that some killings stemmed from conflicts between rival drug syndicates.
“Ang dumating sa akin is that sometimes there is a rivalry of the turf, ‘yung teritoryo niya, kung sino ang humahawak (The results I received is that sometimes there is a rivalry of the turf, within their territories, who is in charge),” he said.
Duterte also insisted that he has never killed anyone or ordered anyone to be killed.
“I cannot really find a good reason to prosecute an innocent man. Mine is to not really prosecute just for the sake of being somebody being prosecuted. My job is to see to it that the rule of law — the rules for or against a person — are followed. At maraming sinasabi ‘rule of law, hindi ka naman sumusunod, marami kang pinapatay. Wala ho akong pinatay na tao (And many are saying, ‘rule of law’ you don’t even follow it because you killed so many. I didn’t kill anyone),” he said.
He said the public can even verify if he has killed or ordered the killing of a person.
“Magtanong ka ng isang pulis dito sa Pilipinas, magtanong ka kay Secretary (Eduardo) Año sa [Department of the Interior and Local Government], magtanong ka kay [Defense Secretary] Delfin Lorenzana, at may inutusan ba akong taong sinabi, ‘Patayin mo ito si Mr. Santos, Edmundo Santos, o patayin mo ito si Juan de la Cruz (Ask any police in the Philippines, ask Secretary Año, ask Delfin Lorenzana if I asked them ‘Kill Mr. Santos, Edmundo Santos or kill Juan de la Cruz). I never do that,” he said.
Duterte said there is an ongoing campaign against illegal drugs and other crimes in the country which also led to the deaths of police and soldiers.
In a Palace briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte’s past claims about killing anyone were merely done to generate attention and discussion.
“Ang mga pulitiko may mga sasabihin ‘yan because they know patok. Pero meron din silang mga sinasabi na alam nila eto yung pawang katotohonan. Bagamat ang Presidente ay makulay sa kaniyang pananalita, it is actually to generate attention and discussion lalong-lalo na pagdating kaniyang pet issue, yung (Politicians say things because they know it will click. But they also say things that are truth. Even if the President is colorful by his manner of speaking, it is actually to generate attention and discussion especially when it comes to his pet issue, the) anti-drugs campaign),” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte also claimed that communist rebels were “out to destroy” the government by “inventing” stories about harassment, oppression, and murder.
“And the NDF [National Democratic Front] — are out to destroy the very government in which they are enjoying the blessings of democracy. They invent stories about being harassed, killed, oppressed. Eh wala namang kaming nakikita at wala namang dumadating sa akin (I have not seen anything. Nothing has reached me),” he said.
The NDF is the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
Destroy seized shabu
In the same public address, Duterte ordered authorities to destroy confiscated shabu within a week to prevent them from being recycled.
“I want all the shabu residual or otherwise, however minimal, destroyed, the whole of it by next week. You have so many days to do it one week. Do it in one week. Destroy and get specimen,” he said.
He said he saw no reason to keep confiscated drugs sitting in facilities for so long.
“We go by science, there’s the experiment. Why do we have to put on our shoulder the burden of keeping a contraband or merchandise that can be stolen and used, and recycled?” he said.
Destroying seized drugs within a week, he said, would prevent them from being stolen, used, or recycled.
“So we can more or less improve things, better protect the Filipino people while doing a concerted action immediately after just a few — I hope the Supreme Court will agree with me — just a few days after, they should be destroyed and be accounted for accurately. But as I said, sans the practice of stealing and recycling, but that is another thing,” he said. (PNA)
By Azer Parrocha, PNA