All of the 3,800 people killed so far in police operations under the Duterte administration's drug war are drug dealers, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Cayetano, in an interview with Al Jazeera English's "UpFront" that aired Friday, denied claims that some of the drug war’s killings had been staged by police officers.
When asked by "UpFront" host Mehdi Hasan if all suspects in the police’s anti-drug operations were criminal drug dealers, despite not tried in court, Cayetano said: “Yes”.
He defended police's lethal use of force. "If someone pulls a gun on the police, they have to bring them to court first before they fire back? The police are doing what they can.”
He also denied allegations that killings in the country’s ongoing drug war are not being investigated.
“That’s absolutely not true,” Cayetano said. “There are a couple of policemen who were caught murdering and they are being charged with murder.”
According to official government numbers, a total of 3,811 drug personalities were killed in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to August 29, 2017. Government data also said there were 6,225 drug-related killings from July 2016 and September 2017.
This is contrary to estimates by human rights organizations, which put the death toll at 9,000 to 10,000, figures that the government has said are bloated.
The Duterte administration has repeatedly denied that summary killings amid its drug war are state-sponsored.
The PNP on Friday also said there are no cases of extra-judicial killings under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
'See whether it's safer now'
Cayetano claimed that the drug war is being misrepresented for political reasons.
“The perception that was thrown to the international community was led by certain human rights groups associated with our opposition, and associated with some people in the Catholic Church,” he said. “But, they did not give the international community the correct facts.”
"Come to the Philippines and see whether it's safer now," he told the "UpFront" host.
Hasan, meanwhile cited Duterte's earlier statement that many Philippine police officers, who are taking part in his drug war, are corrupt.
Hasan: The President doesn't trust your police.
Cayetano: "We don't trust the rogue police.
Hasan: No, that's not what he said, he said, "You policemen are the most corrupt to the core, it's in your system." That doesn't sound like rogue, it's in your system.
Cayetano: Last time I checked, hyperbole and figures of speech are allowed.
Hasan: 40% of the police in the Philippines are corrupt, he says. Is that true or false?
Cayetano: That's his estimation, the chief of police estimation is 2%.
Hasan: So who's right, the president or the chief of police? I can't believe youre throwing your boss under the bus.
Cayetano: I'm not throwing him under the bus, what I'm saying--
Hasan: Is the president correct that 40% of the Philippine police... it's a simple yes or no. Is he correct, in your view, that 40% of the Philippine police are corrupt?
Cayetano: It's an estimation.
Hasan: Is it a correct estimation?
Cayetano: You do not know if--
Hasan: Is it a correct estimation?
Cayetano: That's his estimation, that's not the point. The point is he's trying to clean up the police and he admits that there is a problem.
Cayetano said 78 percent of Filipinos support the drug war, according to a survey from the Pew Research Center.
There were more killings in the past administration, he added.
“The minimum was 11,500. The maximum was 16,000,” Cayetano said, without elaborating.
During the interview, Cayetano was asked if it was difficult to represent Duterte, due to his controversial statements including rape jokes, cursing at the pope, and aiming a gay slur at the US ambassador.
“Not at all. Filipinos are prouder now than ever,” he said, claiming that these were “being said by Western media, which the president did not say.”
Cayetano also denied that Duterte cracked jokes about sexual abuse of women.
“He never jokes about rape. He’s very mad about rape,” he said.