MANILA - Malacañang maintained Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte was only "using a figure of speech" when "frustration" prompted his pronouncement that he would also kill human rights activists should the number of drug dependents increase.
"It was just out of frustration. The President really did not mean na gagawin niya yun. It was just frustration na ini-express niya through language. Kilala naman natin ang Pangulo na ganoon talaga siya magsalita," Communcations Secretary Martin Andanar told radio DZMM.
"It was just a figure of speech," he added.
Duterte said on Monday that he will "include" human rights advocates during "harvest time where more people will die" since they are the "reason why their (drug dependents) numbers swell."
Duterte threat to kill rights defenders alarms groups
Andanar likened the Duterte's statement to that of a parent berating his child.
"Tayong mga Pilipino, ganoon tayo magsalita e, 'pag nagalit tayo halimbawa sa mga anak natin.'Sige kain ka nang kain ng candy, mauubos iyang ngipin mo,' mga ganoon," he said.
He also told human rights activists not to always take the President's comments literally.
"Marami pong estilo ang Pangulo sa pananalita, the way that he expresses his frustration. Huwag po nating literal na kuhanin o intindihin ang pagkaintindi ng Pangulo. We also have to take the manner and the style by which the President speaks," he said.