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MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has asked critics why he is being blamed for the death of drug pushers during his war against illegal drugs, as he believes getting involved in the drug trade is actually suicide.
Duterte again criticized the human rights sector during his pre-recorded briefing aired on Wednesday night for putting all the responsibility of the drug war deaths on his shoulders, when his message about drugs pushers — that he will kill them — has been clear from the start.
"The policy remains, wala akong iniiba, basta ako pagka sinira mo ang Pilipinas, ang bayan ko, papatayin kita. D'yan sa human rights, paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, at sinasabi ko sa'yo, kayong mga durugista, aabutin talaga kayo ng swerte ninyo," the President said.
(The policy remains, I did not change anything. But for me, if you destroy the Philippines, I would kill you. Those with the human rights sector, I have repeatedly said that those into drugs, your luck would run out under my term.)
"Hinihingi mo eh, para kang nag-suicide. If you commit suicide, bakit ako ang mademanda? Ngayon kung papasok ka sa droga, gusto mo mag-suicide. Eh kung mabaril ka ng pulis d'yan pati militar, bakit mo ako sisihin, na gusto mong magsuicide?" he asked.
(You're asking for it, it's like committing suicide. If you commit suicide, why would you file charges against me? If you enter the world of drug trade, it means you want to commit suicide. What if the police or the military shot you during an operation, why blame me when you want to commit suicide?)
Duterte further said that he is bewildered why cases are being pushed against him and officers from law enforcement agencies when it is the people entering the drug trade who are playing with danger.
"Gusto mo eh, pumasok ka ng droga, that is suicide, 'di ba? 'Yan ang simple d'yan. Ngayon kung gusto mo mag-suicide, 'wag mo i-demanda 'yong pulis, i-demanda mo 'yong military, i-demanda mo ako, anong klase 'yan? Paano ang pagka-presidente ko, maging inutil ako?" he asked.
(You want that, you entered the drug trade, that is suicide, right? That is simple. Now if you want to commit suicide, do not file charges against the police, the military officers, me, because what would that do? How would I discharge my duties as President?)
The drug war, a prime program of Duterte's administration, has been criticized often for being bloody and for supposedly disregarding human rights in the conduct of police operations.
Human rights groups have contrasted the high amount of suspects who died during the drug war, and the number of authorities prosecuted and convicted for killing individuals during operations— dubbed as extrajudicial killings.
As of now, only three police officers have been found guilty of murder — the Caloocan policemen involved in the killing of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos, who according to the court was summarily executed despite his pleas that he was not involved in the drug trade.
Last Wednesday, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) member-states approved a resolution calling for technical assistance and capacity building to help the Philippines in sorting human rights issues — falling short of expectations that the international body would probe Duterte.
Relatives of drug war victims have voiced their disappointment over the UNHRC's decision, as they believe accountability would only be attained when the body would intervene in Duterte's drug war.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Center for Mental Health hotline at 0917-899-USAP (8727); (02) 7-989-USAP; or 1553 (landline to landline, toll-free).
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