Duterte defends drug war, convinces world leaders he's 'not a killer’

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 4) — President Rodrigo Duterte took to the international stage to justify his controversial war on illegal drugs.

He was asked about the Philippines' warming ties with Russia during the Valdai Discussion Club forum in Sochi on Thursday (Friday, Philippine time). But Duterte drifted from the topic and chose to defend his administration's policy on how to rid the country of illegal drugs. In true Duterte fashion, he spoke lengthily about the topic, which prompted the moderator to remind him twice of the time limit.

He reiterated there is no policy for government forces to kill all drug suspects, but only those who resist arrest.

"I have no business, universal right to destroy a fellow human being. I don’t allow the military to shoot a person with stretched hand and surrender," he said.

But in the same vein, he said he encouraged the killing of drug lords and drug addicts, saying he'd be "happy if those things happened."

Duterte, who shared the stage with his "favorite hero" Russian President Vladimir Putin, tried to convince the international audience that he is no murderer.

"I am not a killer. I have yet to kill one human being. When I say, 'I will kill you,' that's a statement coming from the mouth," he said.

However, in 2017, the President claimed he killed someone when he was a teenager — as he threatened those involved in illegal drugs.

He also lambasted his critics and rights advocates, adding he was surprised when even the United Nations Human Rights Commission "heavily criticized" his administration's war on drugs.

"I would post to the entire community of the world, 'Is it wrong for a president to say do not destroy my country, especially the children, because I will kill you?' That was my order to the armed forces and the police," he said.

Duterte said he takes full responsibility for at least 6,600 people have been killed in anti-illegal drug operations since he took office in July 2016. Local and international human rights groups say the anti-drug campaign has resulted in more than 20,000 extrajudicial killings, a claim the government has denied.

"I take responsibility for all the consequences of this drug war. I and I alone. If someday somebody has to be had, I will be happy. I will even put the noose on my neck, go ahead. If you want to shoot me in a firing squad, fine, our national hero died before a firing squad," he said.