Human rights group slams unapologetic Duterte for drug war

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES - SEPTEMBER 17: (EDITORS NOTE: This image has been converted to Black & White) Relatives visit the tomb of Jimboy Bolasa, a victim of an alleged vigilante killing five years ago, before his remains are exhumed after the lease on his tomb expired at a public cemetery on September 17, 2021 in Navotas, Metro Manila, Philippines. Relatives witnessed as workers hammered down tombs and pulled out the unrecognizeable remains of their loved ones, who were killed five years ago during President Duterte's bloody war on drugs. The families, too poor to renew the leases on their loved-ones graves, received assistance from a Catholic charity to have the remains cremated instead. President Duterte's government announced that it will not cooperate with the International Criminal Court's probe into his brutal anti-drug campaign, nor allow any investigators into the country. Judges at the ICC announced it was conducting a formal investigation into Duterte's drug war, which human rights groups estimate have claimed the lives of more than 30,000 mostly poor people, by police in controversial anti-drugs operations or by vigilantes allegedly with the backing of the police. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Relatives visit the tomb of Jimboy Bolasa, a victim of an alleged vigilante killing five years ago, before his remains are exhumed after the lease on his tomb expired at a public cemetery on September 17, 2021 in Navotas, Metro Manila, Philippines.Judges at the ICC announced it was conducting a formal investigation into Duterte's drug war, which human rights groups estimate have claimed the lives of more than 30,000 mostly poor people, by police in controversial anti-drugs operations or by vigilantes allegedly with the backing of the police. (Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

A human rights group criticized President Rodrigo Duterte after his remark that he would never apologize for the thousands of people killed in the drug war.

Cristina Palabay, secretary-general of human rights group Karapatan, said that the Duterte administration must answer for the drug-related killings instigated by local law enforcement.

“He and cohorts who committed these crimes should be made accountable,” she said to Yahoo Philippines.

Furthermore, Karapatan committed to continue seeking justice for those who fell victim to extrajudicial killings under the current administration despite Duterte’s unapologetic remark.

“With Duterte remaining unrepentant for his crimes against the people, there is greater reason to exact and further the struggle for justice and accountability,” Palabay claimed.

This response came after Duterte’s statement during his address on January 4, when he said that he will “never, never apologize for the deaths.”

"Kill me, jail me, I will never apologize," the president said.

Although the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) recorded a total of 6,191 drug war deaths as of August 31, 2021, the International Criminal Court (ICC) estimates that the figure is much higher – ranging from 12,000 to 30,000 victims.

The ICC is currently investigating Duterte for supposedly committing crimes against humanity for the “widespread and systematic attack” on Filipinos throughout the war on drugs.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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