PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that the allegation that he incited the killings of suspected drug personalities was "simply not true."
Speaking before the members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Law Association, the President said he had been "demonized" locally and internationally because of "fake news and concocted figures," in relation to the implementation of his brutal drug war.
Duterte slammed the "bright guys," referring to his political rivals who he claimed "cannot accept defeat," for propagating erroneous information regarding his campaign against rampant narcotics sale.
"I know that I have been demonized and of course, I will assure you, upon my oath as lawyer and before God, that some are true, some are not. And the extrajudicial tag that has been placed on me is simply not true," Duterte said at the commemorative session of Asean Law Association Governing Council held at Palace's Rizal Hall.
"Most of the victims who were killed, and according to the bright guys of this country and political opposition, it’s the guys who cannot accept defeat, they invented the fake news and concocted figures. I do not deny that there were people killed in that campaign… Why are they killed? Because a shabu user or a lieutenant of shabu syndicate has always a gun," he added.
Duterte has earned many critics for his deadly war on illegal drugs that was carried out by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
The President, in his previous speeches, has repeatedly warned drug traffickers that they would face death if they do not end their involvement in the narcotics trade.
Duterte, however, said in his latest impromptu statement that he "never" ordered the authorities to kill drug suspects who did not offer resistance during anti-drug operations.
He likewise emphasized his previous directive to a responding police officer was to kill a drug personality if his life is at risk.
"I did not tell any policemen, for the life of me, to kill just everybody, perhaps sitting down or kneeling in front of the police... That's really murder," the Chief Executive said.
"I am sure that there never was a time that I said, 'Go out and just kill the criminals.' It's always been, 'Go out, do not be afraid, I will support you.' [And I said], the only time that you can kill a criminal is when your life is in danger,” he added.
Following criticisms of his war on drugs, Duterte recently stripped the PNP of its role to conduct simultaneous drug raids in an attempt to please the “bleeding hearts.”
To date, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, as the lead agency to handle the drug problem, was delegated by the President to solely launch the anti-drug operations all throughout the country. (SunStar Philippines)