'Akin iyan': Duterte says deaths of drug lords, mayors are on him

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 04 2021 07:29 PM | Updated as of Nov 04 2021 08:20 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte via Presidential Photo/file
President Rodrigo Duterte presides over a meeting at the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on Nov. 2, 2021. Roemari Lismonero, Presidential Photo/file

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday assumed responsibility for the deaths of alleged drug traffickers and several mayors, as the International Criminal Court looks into thousands of killings in his anti-narcotics crackdown. 

Duterte said rights advocates "want me to go to prison" over his drug war. He reiterated he would only face a Philippine court. 

"Wala man tayong problema na meron tayong mga kasalanan. Admitted man 'yan, either intentionally or unintentionally. Pero ‘yong sa droga, hindi ‘yan talaga sabihin mo sinadya," said the President. 

(We have no problem that we have sins. That's admitted, either intentionally or unintentionally. But with the drugs, that was not intentional.)

"Pero ‘yong mga drug lords na ni-raid tapos pinatay, at ‘yong mga mayors, akin ‘yan. Iyong mga lahat na raid na namatay na mayor, akin ‘yan," he said in a speech at an infrastructure project inauguration. 

(However, the drug lords who were raided then killed, and the mayors, those are mine. All raids that killed mayors, those are mine.)

At least 25 local official have been killed under Duterte's presidency, which ends in June next year. 

Duterte reiterated that he assumes "full responsibility" for the bloody anti-narcotics campaign, which has claimed thousands of lives across the country. 

"And if there's anybody who should go to the prison, it should not be the police nor the PDEA. It should be me, because they were acting upon my orders," he said. "Ang sinabi ko sa kanila (I told them), go out and destroy the apparatus of the drug syndicates."

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The Duterte administration has argued the ICC has no jurisdiction over the Philippines because the President in 2018 withdrew the country from the treaty that created the tribunal. 

The ICC, however, said it retains jurisdiction over the Philippines from July 2016, when President Rodrigo Duterte took office, until March, 2019, when the country’s departure from the Rome Statute took effect. 

Duterte was elected in 2016 on a campaign promise to get rid of the Philippines' drug problem, and he openly ordered police to kill drug suspects if officers' lives were in danger.

At least 6,181 people have died in more than 200,000 anti-drug operations conducted since July 2016, according to the latest official data released by the Philippine government.

ICC prosecutors in court papers estimate the figure to be between 12,000 to 30,000 dead.

— With a report from Agence France-Presse