By Daniel Llanto | FilAm Star Correspondent
After a total of 3,612 drug-related killings since July, according to police data, President Rodrigo Duterte finally admitted that there is a spate of vigilante killings in the country but said he is not worried about threats to impeach him or accusations of summary executions from the international community.
The President referred to the victims of such killings as “collateral damage” in the campaign against drugs.
Duterte said it saddened him that some innocent people were killed but promised that the alleged extra-judicial killings would be investigated and justice served to the victims if warranted.
“Now, if the vigilantes would take over, you know I cannot control it. I cannot be God and control everything. Okay, you just kill these guys or you wait for the courts to do that,” President Duterte said.
“If the criminals are killed by the thousands, that’s not my problem. My problem is how to take care of the law-abiding, God-fearing young persons of this Republic because they are our resources,” he added.
The President insisted he committed no crime in threatening to kill drug suspects in the country.
“You destroy my country, I’ll kill you. And it’s a legitimate thing,” he said. “If you destroy our young children, I will kill you. That is a very correct statement. There is nothing wrong in trying to preserve the interests of the next generation.”
“This is the law of my land. Here is a policeman, here is a gangster. He’s armed with an M-16 (assault rifle), the gangster only with a pistol. But when they meet they exchange fire. The policeman with his M-16, there’s one burst and he hits 1,000 people there and they die. There’s no criminal liability,” he said.
Despite his crackdown on drugs, the President said he still believes in the country’s justice system. “Right now, I still believe in the system because I will guarantee that the law this time is obeyed,” he said.
But Duterte brushed aside the concerns raised by human rights groups on alleged abuses in the drug crackdown. “I don’t care about what the human rights guys say. I have the duty to preserve the generation. If it involves human rights, I don’t give a
shit,” he said.
“I have to strike fear because the enemies of the state are out there to destroy our children,” he added.
For now, the President said his directive is to “intimidate and strike fear in the hearts of criminals” and ensure the safety and protection of law-abiding citizens in the country.
Duterte previously expressed dismay that the Senate initiated an inquiry on whether vigilante killings indeed take place under his campaign against drugs. The Senate committee on justice and human rights, now chaired by Sen. Richard Gordon, wrapped up its investigation recently and concluded that extra-judicial killings did happen but these are not state-sanctioned.
Gordon said the outcome of the Senate hearings only validated that the “rule of law” is still working in the nation. ” It is not perfect but you can see that the branches of government are working. There is a rule of law, the rule book has not been thrown out of the window,” Gordon said.
”There is no proof to show that there is a sustained systematic policy of state-sponsored killings. The President is motivated to kill the use of illegal drugs because he really means to eradicate illegal drugs. But I don’t think he is really going to push anybody and say kill,” he added.
Gordon also said the hearings did not show proof that the President is linked to the so-called summary killings nor to the alleged Davao death squad.