MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday he was not planning on becoming a dictator even as his bloody war on drugs left hundreds killed and raised international alarm.
The 71-year-old leader said he was merely doing his duty and the Philippines would be a "failed country" if the drug scourge was not stopped.
Duterte said he would not follow the lead of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who placed the country under martial law and ruled for two decades. He said his mother, Soledad, even fought the dictatorship.
''Wala akong balak na maging diktador, abugado ako. Ang nanay ko Yellow Friday leader sa Davao. Sabihin nila mag-Marcos, far from it [I have no plans of becoming a dictator. I am a lawyer. My mother was a Yellow Friday leader in Davao. If they will say that I will become Marcos, I'm far from it]'' Duterte said in a news conference.
Duterte had openly admired Marcos for his pro-poor programs and approved his internment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).
Three months since Duterte won the May elections, there have been at least 2,000 drug-related killings according to a Reuters tally. Data from the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group placed the death toll as of Tuesday at 1,288.
READ: Death toll in Philippines' drug war hits 2,000
Local and international human rights monitors and at least two investigators from the United Nations have raised alarm over the mounting deaths.
But Duterte has repeatedly said that he would defend police from human rights complaints and promised to double their salaries.