MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that there were indeed extrajudicial killings in the country but denied that they were sanctioned by the government.
Despite rising global criticisms against extrajudicial killings and rights abuses, President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday maintained that the relentless war on drugs will continue even if he lands in jail.
In a speech before the Filipino community in Brunei, Duterte told his critics, the International Criminal Court in particular, not to threaten him with an investigation.
"They keep on threatening me on sending me to the International Criminal Court. I already said this: I am willing to rot in jail for the Filipino. Can't you understand that? So don't keep threatening or intimidating… calling my attention. It's really corny," Duterte said.
"I find this ridiculous. How can you send to prison a President declaring war against drugs," he added.
ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensoud on Friday said her office would start monitoring the Philippines amid concerns over summary execution in Duterte's bloody crackdown on illegal drugs, adding that the government "seems to condone such killings."
The Hague-based international court tries people accused of crimes against humanity.
Duterte admitted that there were indeed extrajudicial killings in the country but denied that they were sanctioned by the government.
"You know, let's not fool each other. The others were really killed. That's what you call "salvage" or extrajudicial killing. I can't say there was none. There really were. But if you say they're state-sponsored killing, that it's my order to kill them, then that's nonsense," he said.
The President reiterated his previous remarks that there was nothing wrong with threatening to kill criminals, as he belittled the intellect and knowledge of the law of human rights advocates, to the crowd's cheer.
"What is wrong with the statement, 'Do not destroy my country because I will kill you. Do not destroy the youth of the land and deprive us of a brighter tomorrow for the future generation.' What is wrong there? Human rights? That's why I'm swearing because they're so dumb," Duterte said.
"I'm not angry at them, but what I'm trying to say is I'm totally exasperated that they don't know the law that it is not a crime even for a civilian Filipino walking on the streets to say, 'I hate the criminals. I hope they die. I will kill them if I catch them.' Perfectly alright. That statement is in defence of my country and people," he added.
The United Nations, the United States, and the European Union have all raised alarm over the spate of killings in the country and were at the receiving end of Duterte's expletive-laced tirades.
As of Oct 14, the Inquirer's "Kill List" notes 1,325 drug-related deaths since June 30 or after Duterte took office.