MANILA- Extrajudicial killings (EJKs) exist in the Philippines but these are not sponsored by the government, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday.
Sotto made the statement after Senator Manny Pacquiao denied the existence of extrajudicial killings in the country, saying many drug suspects ended up dead because they shot it out with arresting officers.
"There is EJK but not ordered by the government," Sotto told reporters in an interview.
"Walang EJK na executed ng gobyerno. We have to admit na mayroong EJK pero hindi inorder ng gobyerno," he added.
(The government does not execute extra-judicial killings. We have to admit that there are extra-judicial killings but the government did not order those.)
President Rodrigo Duterte's 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.
Using the term “EJK" is also not correct according to Sotto since there are no "judicial killings" in the Philippines given the absence of the death penalty.
Duterte is facing complaints at the International Criminal Court over the drug war killings. He has ordered the country's withdrawal from the tribunal.
-report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News