MANILA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday denied spreading disinformation about the war on drugs during his Al Jazeera interview, saying he only cited government statistics.
Cayetano said he has explained in the interview "what in my view is the truth and what's happening."
"Hindi tayo nagkakalat ng disinformation. But I challenge anyone, let's sit down kahit sa public, tell me which of the numbers I gave are disinformation," he told reporters.
"All my information is verified, it's official government statistics and we never ask anyone we engage to believe it hook line and sinker. What we're saying these are the numbers, why don't you take a look at it, we can sit down," he said.
"Ang gusto kasi ng lahat i-politicize kaagad e. We can politicize the finding, pero kung mag-iimbestiga ka, anong klaseng imbestigasyon ang meron ka nang conclusion?," he added.
Cayetano earlier this month told Al Jazeera English's "UpFront" that all of the 3,800 people killed so far in police operations under President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics campaign were drug dealers.
Talking to host Mehdi Hasan, Cayetano defended police's lethal use of force, saying: "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."
Recalling the questions fired at him by the journalist, Cayetano said in the interview Thursday: "Ang tanong sa akin doon sa Al Jazeera, were the 3,000 killed because of drugs o pusher sila. Ano ba yung category nung 3,000? Hindi ba killed because presumptively, di ba ang category noon?"
"Every death is one too much but if you look at it in context na 96,000 yung inaresto and 3,000 ang napatay, it's within the ratio not only of our country but other countries na lumalaban," he said, noting as well that 1.3 million drug personalities have surrendered since Duterte launched his anti-drug drive.
"So nung tinanong ako are they are all, siyempre they are presumed kaya nga yung category na napatay because of drug operation. The numbers I cited was in that category…That's why I said there's an investigation," he added.
Cayetano was in the United States for a month, in a trip which he said was productive and successful having conveyed the administration's position on various issues including human rights.
He also tagged as "fake news" a story being propagated by a human rights group in the US which he said politicizes the issue and jumps into conclusion without basis.
Latest police estimates placed the number of drug suspects slain in legitimate anti-narcotics operations at around 3,800; but human rights groups have placed the death count at roughly 13,000.
- with ABS-CBN News