While vowing to continue his bloody war on drugs, the president of the Philippines issued a rare apology Thursday for the deaths of innocent victims.
“I would admit there were killings that were really unintended, like the children who were caught in the crossfire,” President Rodrigo Duterte said in an interview with ABS-CBN.
“Collateral damage … I’m sorry,” he added.
For Duterte, the crackdown on drugs is an actual war, and this is not the first time the president has referred to innocent drug war victims as “collateral damage.”
“When you bomb a village you intend to kill the militants but you kill the children there … Why do you say it is collateral damage to the West and to us it is murder?” Duterte asked in an interview with Al-Jazeera in mid-October.
“Until the last pusher is out of the street, I’ll be very frank with you, until the last drug lord is killed, this campaign will continue until the very last day of my term,” the president said Thursday.
The war on drugs has reportedly claimed the lives of an estimated 6,000 people since it began six months ago. The majority of the deaths are referred to as “unexplained deaths,” which many claim are extrajudicial killings carried out by police and vigilantes with the president’s approval.
Duterte reiterated that he does not support extrajudicial killings, arguing, “There are vigilantes out to kill drug pushers without mercy.”
The president has repeatedly stated that he will slaughter drug criminals. On the campaign trail, he promised to kill tens of thousands of drug criminals.
“If you destroy my country, I’ll kill you,” he said in the interview with Al-Jazeera.
“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now, there are three million drug addicts … I’d be happy to slaughter them,” Duterte said in September.
Following the largest drug bust in the history of the Philippines, Duterte expressed dissatisfaction because the police did not kill the suspects. “I would have shot them dead on the spot,” Duterte said angrily.
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