PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has rejected claims that the death toll in his war on drugs could now be 20,000, nearly four times higher than the government figure.
Duterte said his critics may have exaggerated the number as latest data from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) showed the campaign has killed 4,999 suspected drug dealers and users since he took office in June 2016.
“Inaadmitan na nga ni [Philippine National Police chief General Oscar] Albayalde na 4,000 plus eh and that is a figure which I am bound because that is the trabaho of my tao ko. Pulis ko ‘yan eh. So I have to admit what they say to me,” Duterte said.
“Now sabihin mo what, 20,000? Pinasobrahan nila? Son of a b—. Twenty thousand and look at the dislocation of my country. It is destroying my country,” he added.
He said reports on the death toll that are not from government did not explain the circumstances of the killings.
“Sabihin lang nila, ‘Here is a list of those who died.’ They do not explain, where did it happen, what was the cause, whether it was drugs or it was an outright killing, when. Tapos sabihin mo how, was he kneeling down or was he shot with the back turned against the aggressor?” Duterte said.
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.
He responded by withdrawing the Philippines’ membership in the ICC in March, a move challenged by opposition senators before the Supreme Court.
Duterte had repeatedly said that the ICC had 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.