President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday appeared to have acknowledged that EJKs have happened in his two years in office.
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s supposed admission of having sinned over extrajudicial killings under his leadership has established the chief executive’s accountability for these deaths, his critics and a rights watchdog said Friday.
Duterte on Thursday appeared to have acknowledged that EJKs have happened in his two years in office.
“I told the military: What are my sins? Did I steal money? Even just a peso? Did I prosecute somebody I sent to jail? My only sin was the extrajudicial killings,” he said.
Critics said his statement was an admission of guilt, saying it would aid the preliminary examination initiated by the International Criminal Court into the government’s deadly crackdown on illegal drugs.
Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia division director, said that Duterte’s public remark should erase any doubt about his culpability.
“The admission by President Rodrigo Duterte that he has committed a ‘sin’ because of the extrajudicial killings committed in his ‘drug war’ should prod the ICC to speed up its consideration of the cases filed against him for the killing of thousands of Filipinos,” Adams said.
For opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the president’s statement revealed that the killings were not only real but were sanctioned by the state.
“It ends once and for all the pseudo debate pushed by the president’s fake news peddlers and data fudgers on whether or not EJKs under his regime exist. EJKs under President Duterte are real. And the president acknowledged them as his sin,” she said.
Duterte’s nemesis, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, said his camp will submit transcript and video of the chief executive’s supposed acknowledgment of his sin to the ICC to bolster the cases filed before the Hague-based court.
Not a laughing matter
Trillanes, who has been holed up inside the Senate premises for weeks, slammed presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. for saying that Duterte was not serious when he made the controversial statement.
“They cannot get away with that alibi anymore,” the senator said.
In a radio interview Friday, the president’s mouthpiece explained that Duterte was only “being himself, being playful” and “highlighting the point that he is not corrupt.”
“Our countrymen elected a president, not a comedian,” Trillanes said in Filipino.
Duterte’s ferocious war on drugs has left more than 12,000 people dead, according to human rights groups. But the government downplays the figure, counting a little more than 4,000 casualties.