MANILA, Philippines — Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday denied he was spreading false information about the Duterte administration’s war on drugs campaign.
He said all the things he said during his interview with Al Jazeera earlier this month were based on official government records.
“All my information is verified, it’s official government statistics and we never ask anyone we engage to believe it hook line and sinker. What we’re saying is these are the numbers, why don’t you take a look at it, we can sit down,” Cayetano said.
In the said Oct. 6 interview, the DFA chief said “yes” when he was asked if all the 3,500 Filipinos killed in the drug war were in fact, criminal drug dealers.
However, the DFA chief also said during the same interview that “every single one of them is being investigated,” thus implying that there was yet no finding if indeed all of them were criminal drug dealers because each of their cases were still being probed.
On Thursday, Cayetano argued that critics wanted to “immediately politicize” the drug war issue.
“We can politicize the finding pero kung mag-iimbestiga ka, anong klaseng imbestigasyon ang meron ka nang conclusion [but if you investigate, what kind of investigation is that if you already have a conclusion]?”
“For example, ang tanong sa akin doon sa Al Jazeera, were the 3,000 killed because of drugs o pusher sila? Ano ba ‘yong category no’ng 3,000? Hindi ba killed because presumptively, di ba ang category noon…,” he said, explaining that those who were killed were presumed to be drug criminals.
Also, Cayetano said that at first glance, the number of those who were killed in the drug war seemed to be big but was really small or just within the normal range if compared to the number of those who had surrendered.
“One point three million people have surrendered, more than a hundred people have been arrested. At the time of the interview, it was 96,000. So if you just say 3,000 were killed in police operations parang titingnan mo ‘yong numbers na ‘yon, parang ang laki and every death is one too much. But if you look at it in context na 96,000 ‘yong inaresto and 3,000 ang napatay, it’s within the ratio not only of our country but other countries na lumalaban.”