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Palace denies Duterte encouraging war crimes

Malacañang yesterday assured that President Duterte is not encouraging war crimes following his recent pronouncements that “anything goes for now” when it comes to the government’s fight against communist insurgency.

The Human Rights Watch has said Duterte’s pronouncements are “frighteningly” similar with his praise and encouragement for drug-related killings carried out during legitimate police anti-drug operations.

According to presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, the people should understand where Duterte is coming from, considering that he is now even asking the help of local government officials to deter lawlessness in Mindanao.

“Unang-una po, intindihin natin kung saan po talaga nanggagaling ang Presidente. Like recently, nagpahayag nga siya na…humihingi siya ng tulong at sabi niya, huwag tayong lalamya-lamya kumbaga,” he said over Radyo ng Bayan.

Duterte on Thursday said he is now ready for an all-out war with the communist rebels following the ambush and killing of four policemen in Davao del Sur.

He said he will now allow the military and the police to use all resources, including bombs. The Chief Executive has apologized for the collateral damage this all-out war might cause.

Later, he asked local chief executives in Mindanao to help him prevent criminality, violence, drugs, and terrorism in Mindanao or he will be compelled to declare Martial Law in the island.

According to Abella, several crimes in many parts of the Philippines are now being funded by money from illegal drugs.

“Talagang hindi siya basta’t negosyo lang,” he said. “Wala po tayong kinakalaban na ano rito. We are fighting for the existence and for the life of the nation,” he added.

The HRW on Friday said that Duterte should promptly make clear to the Armed Forces that counter-insurgency operations are constrained by law, and that those who violate them, from the lowliest private to the commander-in-chief, will be held to account.”

“Kailangan, kung sino man ang leader, needs to be more authoritative. Pero sa totoo lang po, ang hangad lang po ng Presidente, isang bayan na mapayapa,” he said. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos)