MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte made no admission of guilt over extrajudicial killings when he spoke of his "only sin" in a recent speech, Malacañang reiterated Saturday.
In a statement clarifying the President's remarks anew, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte made the statement to point out he has never been accused of anything other than extrajudicial killings associated with his campaign against illegal drugs.
"First, there is no admission on the part of the President. He merely wants to underscore the point that he has not been accused of corruption nor has he engaged in political vendetta. All the critics and detractors can allege are killings attributed to his drug war," Roque said.
He maintained that most of the drug-related deaths were not part of police operations.
"Second, the President recognizes and feels it is unfortunate the incidence and increase of drug-related deaths in the country. However, we must emphasize that most of the killings, although drug-related, did not result as part of any police operation," he said.
"As for those which resulted as a consequence of such, we maintain that police authorities also have the right to protect themselves from violent resistance," Roque added.
On Friday, Roque had explained that Duterte's remarks made Thursday should not be taken seriously.
“Alam mo naman si Presidente, ano. Hindi na naman iyan seryoso ‘no… I don’t think na ang konteksto niyan ay literal,” Roque told dzRH.
(You know the President. We know he was not serious about it... I don't think that should be taken literally.)
The Duterte administration has been accused of thousands of summary executions under its war on drugs. It has denied involvement.
Per official government estimates, at least 4,854 drug suspects have been killed in police anti-drug operations.
But human rights groups and government critics say this figure is understated, alleging that killings carried out by so-called “vigilante groups” were also state-sponsored, citing cases where some policemen were caught in illegitimate operations.
Duterte is facing complaints at the International Criminal Court over the drug war killings. He has ordered the country's withdrawal from the tribunal.