Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday told his detractors and critics to “Kill me, jail me, but I will never, never apologise for the deaths” of suspected drug users and dealers killed in police operations under his war on drugs.
Official government data shows that more than 6,200 drug suspects have died in anti-narcotics sting operations since Duterte took office in June 2016, until November 2021.
Rights groups and critics say law enforcers have summarily executed drug suspects, but police say those killed were armed and had violently resisted arrest.
Duterte, in his first national address this year, vowed to protect law enforcers doing their duty, telling them to fight back when their life is in danger.
Duterte, 76, won the presidency by a wide margin in 2016 on a platform of anti-corruption and law and order.
The firebrand leader is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election next year. Analysts say an ally getting elected could protect Duterte from any legal action over his anti-narcotics programme.
Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in September approved a formal investigation into Duterte’s war on drugs. The ICC suspended the probe in November following a request by the Philippines, which cited its own investigations.
Duterte unilaterally cancelled the Philippines’ ICC membership in March 2018, a month after its prosecutor said a preliminary examination over the drugs war was under way. (Source: CNA)