Duterte did not threaten to kill rights advocates โ€“ Palace

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he would also kill human rights activists should the number of drug dependents increase was not a veiled threat, a Palace official said Wednesday.

Duterte said on Monday that he will “include” human rights advocates during “harvest time where more people will die” since they are the “reason why their (drug dependents) numbers swell.”

“There’s no threat at all. His statement last Monday was just another frustration in his difficulty in running the country,” Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Michel Kristian Ablan said.

Despite Duterte’s choice of words, media will remain uncensored, and the right to assemble and right to free speech will be respected, Ablan said.

He “appealed” to the public to judge the President based on his “actions more than his talk”, saying Duterte has also allowed the peaceful assembly of protesters against the Marcos burial sans rally permits.

The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), meanwhile, criticized Duterte’s statement that he may kill human rights advocates who oppose his war on drugs.

“This attitude is reckless madness stemming from a non-sequitur. We are one in the difficult war against the drug menace. Our support to fight the scourge is in fact ultimately borne by the desire to uphold human rights,” NUPL Secretary General Atty. Ed Olalia said.

He added: “Principled criticism is not obstructionism but cooperating to achieve a common purpose.”

“We cannot hallucinate or go berserk in our fixation to quell this pandemic. We have to know who our real enemies are. Let us get a hold of ourselves here.”