A new Philippine anti-drugs campaign that has left more than 1,000 people dead is not genocide, said President Rodrigo Dueterte Monday, adding he was prepared to go to jail for the killings.
Duterte shrugged off warnings by human rights experts that he could be liable for crimes against humanity for the deaths in the war against illegal drugs, noting that he does not kill children or women.
“You must be crazy. Genocide? I’m fighting against criminals,” he said in a speech marking National Heroes Day.
“I did not kill children. I did not drop barrel bombs just like (Syrian President Bashar) al-Assad and the idiots (in the Islamic State), I do not burn women because they refuse to have sex,” he added.
According to police statistics, at least 771 drug suspects have been killed in police operations from July 1 to August 25.
More than 1,100 deaths have been reported from July 1 to August 22, but only 273 have so far been confirmed to have been killed for being suspected drug users or pushers, police said.
The 71-year-old president, nicknamed “The Punisher” for his hardline stance against crime, assured the police and the military he would support them in their fight against illegal drugs.
“Do not worry,” he said. “In the pursuit of law and order, pursuant to my directions, you do not have to worry about criminal liability. I will go to prison for you. I take full, legal responsibility.”
Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on summary executions, has condemned the spate of killings and called on Duterte to take steps to stop the murders.
“Claims to fight the illicit drug trade do not absolve the government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings,” she said.