Duterte’s spokesperson says president ‘not serious’ when he said his only ‘sin’ was ‘extra-judicial killings’

Photo: ABS-CBN News
Photo: ABS-CBN News

Well, this is not entirely surprising.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque said today that the president was “not serious” when he said in a speech that his only “sin” was “extra-judicial killings.”

Roque said this in an interview with radio station DZRH, reported by ABS-CBN. He said in a mix of English and Filipino: “You know the president, he’s not serious.”

The president said the controversial statement yesterday during an event recognizing career service professionals in Malacañang Palace.

According to ABS-CBN News, what prompted the president’s rant was the topic of the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006 that was sponsored by Senator Francis Pangilinan, which raised the age of criminal liability to 15 years old.

 

Philippine Star reported that Duterte wasn’t happy that Pangilinan would act as if he was faultless.

In his speech, Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English: “Me? What’s my sin? Did I steal any peso? Did I prosecute anyone, send them to jail? My only sin is the extra-judicial killings. These extra-judicial killings, especially these crazy people….”

 

Duterte also slammed the International Criminal Court (ICC), which started an investigation into his bloody drug campaign in February.

Roque, the only Filipino lawyer who could practice at the ICC, also said that Duterte’s statement was not self-incriminating.

He said: “In the first place, it wasn’t a signed statement, so how can you say that it’s self-incriminating. That’s the President being himself, being playful, being … highlighting the point that he is not corrupt.”

Two cases have been filed against the president at the ICC for his role in the government’s bloody drug war, which according to Human Rights Watch have left more than 12,000 drug suspects dead. According to the police, many of these suspects were killed because they “fought back” (“nanlaban“).

The first complaint was filed by lawyer Jude Sabio in April 2017 which alleges that Duterte “repeatedly, unchangingly and continuously” committed crimes against humanity. The second was filed in August this year by a rights group and the families of the alleged victims of Duterte’s drug campaign.

Due to the investigation, Duterte announced the country’s withdrawal from the ICC. However, the withdrawal is being contested by several senators at the Supreme Court.

Duterte’s speech yesterday prompted former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, who also serves as the lawyer of the president’s vocal critic Senator Leila de Lima, to send a tweet to the ICC.

He wrote in his tweet the message: “Here’s the President of the Republic of the Philippines, making a public admission of crimes under your jurisdiction. Please act asap. Thank you.”

Hilbay attached an article where Duterte made the remarks.

Duterte’s speech also prompted United Nations (UN) special rapporteur Agnes Callamard, a vocal critic of the president, to tweet: “Extraordinary statement by a Head of State (and we have had many this week at the UN): my ‘only’ sin is #EJK. Translation: my only sin is imposing unthinkable sufferings on 1000s of vulnerable families, emboldening corrupt policing, destroying rule of law.”


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