MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte admitted telling Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to "go ahead and implement the law," but clarified this was not in reference to Filipino drug trafficker Mary Jane Veloso, who is on death row in Indonesia for smuggling heroin.
Duterte made the clarification in a speech on Tuesday after several publications in Indonesia reported on Monday that Duterte gave Indonesian President Joko Widodo his "go ahead" for the Filipina's execution.
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The chief executive said Veloso's case was "never mentioned" when he told Widodo "to follow your own laws" and that "I will not interfere," in their bilateral talks in Jakarta last Friday.
Despite criticisms about his supposed lack of interest to plea for Veloso's life, Duterte said there is "nothing to apologize (for) because the law is the law."
"It would be a bad taste in the mouth to be having a strong posture against drugs, and here you are begging for something," Duterte said.
Duterte added, he even praised Indonesia's capital punishment for illegal drug users and traffickers.
"Before he (Widodo) could say anything, I went ahead and told him 'It's good you have the death penalty here,'" he said.
Duterte said the death penalty should also be imposed on drug offenders in the Philippines, which has over 3.7 million drug users and peddlers. Indonesia, he said, has around 4 million.
"I promised that I will solve the drug problem because if I don't interdict, it will compromise the next generation," he said.
During the May elections, Duterte campaigned for the reimposition of the death penalty in the Philippines. He believes capital punishment it is not meant to deter crimes but is for retribution.
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