MANILA - Former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Monday stressed the importance of due process, after the most number of deaths in a week was recorded under his successor's war on drugs.
Authorities should not violate the laws they have sworn to defend even as they pursue suspected criminals, Aquino told reporters, as outrage mounted over one the deaths last week, 17-year-old Kian Loyd Delos Santos.
"Noong panahon namin, importante ang proseso. Importante na walang babalik sa amin at sasabihin kami ang mismong lumalabag ng batas," Aquino said after visiting the grave of his and martyred father, Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.
(Under my term, process was important. It was important that no one would come up to us and accuse of violating the laws ourselves.)
"Dapat may pagkakaiba iyung sinasabi nating labas sa batas o outlaw kaysa doon sa nagpapatupad sa batas. Kung pareho ang ginagawa natin at nila, at wala na tayong pinagkaiba, mali ang nangyayari."
(There should be a difference between outlaws and law enforcers. If we do what they do, we are no different from them and that is wrong.)
President Rodrigo Duterte, left dozens killed last week, including Delos Santos, whom police accused of being a drug courier.
Aquino urged the administration to swiftly investigate Delos Santos' case. He said police officers may only use lethal force in self-defense.
"Nakalagay naman sa Saligang Batas natin kung anong dapat gawin. Sana basahin ulit, sundan nang buong-buo," he added.
(That's in the constitution. They should read it and follow it to the letter.)
This is not the first time that Aquino expressed concern on Duterte's war on drugs. Earlier this month, the former president claimed that the estimated number of drug dependents was unchanged at 1.8 million as of the end of 2016. Duterte, in turn, called Aquino a "fool."
Asked about Duterte's latest tirade, Aquino merely said: "Sabi nga nila, hindi ka puwedeng balat sibuyas. Siyempre di ko naman ikinatuwa.
"Pero balikan ko lang, baka naman sakali matingnan niyang may saysay ang sinasabi, e di sulit na rin."
(As they say, you can't be too sensitive. Of course, I was not happy about the remark. But if he would realize that my statement made sense, it would be worth it.)
The Philippine National Police has maintained that officers acted within the law during last week's anti-drug operations.