The head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency said Friday that the ongoing war on drugs, in which thousands have died, is a “pro-life” campaign, according to local news reports.
PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs recognizes that “human life is precious.” The president launched his shoot-to-kill anti-narcotics campaign last summer, and since that time, more than 7,000 people have been killed, reportedly by rogue cops and vigilantes in a majority of cases.
Human Rights Watch, and international watchdog, said Thursday that Duterte may be guilty of “crimes against humanity.”
Rushing to the president’s defense, Lapeña argued, “Contrary to public notion that the campaign is promoting extra-judicial killings, PDEA is not in the business to take shortcuts to bring drug suspects to justice.”
“Human life is precious and as law enforcers, we are duty bound to protect it. Taking human life is not the intent of anti-drug operations. These incidences of death are results of violent actions of drug pushers towards law enforcers during lawful arrests,” he said, adding, “Like any other war, it has disastrous effects on drug law enforcement officers, drug personalities, and civilians. The risk of losing lives is one of them.”
Duterte’s response to the human rights report was a little bit different.
“There’s a big difference between killing an innocent person and killing a criminal,” Duterte said. He said that there is no “humanity” to speak of when drug criminals are involved; therefore, there can be no “crimes against humanity.”
“Many will still die in the drug war,” Duterte explained, adding that the only way to end the killing is an assassination. “It’s either you kill me or I kill you. That’s it. You can assassinate me,” he said at the groundbreaking ceremony of Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway in Cordova, Cebu, Thursday afternoon.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the drug war is designed to “protect humanity from modern-day evils.”
Duterte has said many times that he will slaughter tens of thousands, even millions, of drug suspects.
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