MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte acknowledged and defended on Tuesday the deaths of alleged traffickers in his war against drugs, which has led to thousands of deaths in the last year and a half.
Duterte was participating in a discussion on the fight against corruption in Manila and speaking of the more than 3,900 alleged traffickers and addicts killed by the police during a controversial anti-drug campaign.
“It is true that there are deaths. Some people actually died. It is destiny,” he said.
The leader, who is in the second year of his six-year mandate, said that people who got involved in violent activities always died violently.
Duterte’s remarks come at a time when police have been withheld from conducting anti-drug operations, putting a stop to anti-drug raids in which officers were allowed to shoot to kill if suspects violently resisted arrest since mid-October.
However, during the last week, the president and law enforcement agencies have said that police might restart the war against drugs, which has led to more than 7,000 deaths if the unresolved killings committed by vigilante groups are included.
In his speech, full of jokes and satire, Duterte lashed out at his opponents, who call him a dictator, and offered to resign by the end of this year if the opposition could create a new constitution which benefits all Filipinos.
Duterte and his war against drugs enjoy massive support in the Philippine society, although the outrage caused by the death of three youngsters in police operations and other irregularities had forced the president to temporarily withdraw police from the campaign.