MANILA - Malacañang on Friday sought "fairness" as the administration of US President Donald Trump expressed concern over killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippine government shared the US government's concern, appealing on the Philippines' long-standing ally to "not rush to a judgment."
"Right now, the people appreciate the changes and the way these are carried out. We ask to be understood not just from a single perspective, but from the point of view of Filipino who desire change, stability and fairness," he said.
Patrick Murphy, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia, had told a presser Thursday that the United States shared Manila's objective of eliminating the scourge of illicit drugs. He said the US government wanted to help.
"We, however, do have a very sustained and deep concern when elements of the drug war are operating outside the rule of law," Murphy told reporters at a briefing in Washington. "The growing number of extrajudicial killings is troubling."
Reuters has now pegged the number of killings related to Duterte's war on drugs at 9,000, but Abella said this figure was "false news".
"On the number of extrajudicial deaths, the persistent news reports of 7,000 killed, which is now being said to be close to 9,000, is false news," he said.
"For the period 01 July 2016 to 24 March 2017, the police has accounted for 6,011 homicide cases under investigation (formerly called deaths under investigation)," he said.
After taking office last year, Duterte lashed out at the administration of then US President Barack Obama for its criticism of his bloody anti-drug campaign. He even threatened to sever the Philippines' long-standing alliance with the US.
Duterte has been speaking positively about Trump, a fellow populist who won as US President in November, though his anti-US rhetoric continued.
The two leaders are expected to meet in November, when Trump is expected to come to the Philippines to attend meetings with Southeast Asian nations. - with a report from Reuters