MANILA – Senator Alan Peter Cayetano defended President Rodrigo Duterte once again over the latter's war on drugs, saying the killings being carried out under this crusade would not become the norm.
The United Nations, Untied States and human rights advocates have been raising the alarm on the rising body count under Duterte's war on drugs, which has now reached 2,000.
READ: Death toll in Philippines' drug war hits 2,000
Cayetano, however, said Duterte is merely ridding the country of the drug menace and that the killings would eventually end.
''This is not going to be the norm. President Duterte is a reset button. This is an offensive against the drug lords. It is a clean-up process,'' Cayetano told CNN chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour.
''And once everything stabilizes, we can put more money on CCTVs (closed-circuit television cameras), drug labs, crime labs, and pay the police more."
Duterte has made no apology for his war on drugs, telling practically everyone to back off as he wages his campaign.
Critics say the president's campaign has come at the cost of respect for human rights and due process.
But Cayetano said the president's critics are twisting facts and misrepresenting certain details just to put the president in bad light.
He accused critics of using the terms ''extra judicial killings, summary killings, and vigilante killings'' loosely to paint a picture of lawlessness in the country.
''Something has to be done and our president has started to do something about it. It is bearing fruit. What do we tell the critics? Please come here and don’t just read the reports because there are people out to discredit him,'' Cayetano said.
Latest data from the Philippine National Police (PNP) revealed that 895 drug suspects have so far been killed in police operations. Police chief, Director General Ronald dela Rosa said in a Senate hearing last week that drug suspects being killed in police operations are presumed to have resisted arrest.
The spate of police killings has raised concerns that Duterte is allowing the culture of impunity to thrive. The president has repeatedly said he will back policemen who will be slapped with charges involving the killing of drug suspects.
Cayetano said despite Duterte's brash rhetoric, the leader values life and respects human rights. He also assured that the government is going after cops abusing their authority.
"He is a man of contradiction," Cayetano quipped.
''Does the president speak differently? Does he speak in a politically incorrect way? Yes. But this is what the criminals in the Philippines understand. Is he disregarding the international norm of human rights? No."