President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday appeared to have admitted to orchestrating extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in his campaign against illegal drugs.
"Ano kasalanan ko? Nagnakaw ba ako dyan ni piso? Did I prosecute somebody na pinakulong ko? Ang kasalanan ko lang 'yung mga extrajudicial killing," Duterte said in a speech before new career government officials in Malacañang.
The President, however, reiterated there was no evidence to implicate him in the killings of more than 4,000 alleged drug offenders since he assumed office in June 2016.
"4,000 deaths. When? Where? How? What did I use? Wala," he said, adding "ninja cops" or policemen involved in the illegal drug trade are behind the killings.
"It's an organized crime actually. Either papatayin itong u___ na ito o ako ang papatayin nito. Hindi na talaga 'yan because they have tasted ng dugo nga ng devil," he said.
Before this, Duterte slammed Senator Francis Pangilinan anew for sponsoring the law that exempts 15-year-olds and younger from criminal liability that the President said has paved the way for a new generation of criminals.
Duterte is currently facing two communications in connection with the drug war before the International Criminal Court (ICC), which opened in February a preliminary examination to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the matter and a full-blown investigation would serve the interests of justice and of the victims.
The President responded by withdrawing the Philippines’ membership in the ICC in March, a move being challenged by opposition senators before the Supreme Court.
He had repeatedly said that the ICC has no jurisdiction over him, arguing that the Rome Statute — the treaty that established the court— is not enforceable in the Philippines because it was not published in a government publication or any commercial newspaper.
Malacañang, meanwhile, cited the principle of complementarity in which the ICC can only investigate allegations of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes if the domestic courts are unable or unwilling to do so.
In his speech, Duterte seemed to have cited the principle when he told ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda that she had no legal authority to look into the killings.
"You are actually exercising functions which you are not supposed to do. It belongs to government but the very least you are committing usurpation of authority," he said, as he threatened to spit water in the face of foreign investigators.
The Palace said the deaths attributed to the war on drugs were because of lawful police operations, thus these could not be regarded as attacks against civilians. — MDM/NB/BAP, GMA News