Duterte 'sorry' for deaths of four Chinese nationals in Zambales drug ops

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 8) — President Rodrigo Duterte has apologized for the deaths of four Chinese nationals during an anti-illegal drug operation in Zambales.

The suspects died following a shootout with authorities on Tuesday, the Philippine National Police said. Around 500 kilograms of shabu worth ₱3.4 billion were confiscated during the buy bust — the "biggest drug haul" so far this year - according to the PNP.

"I'm sorry for the loss of lives. Hindi man natin ginusto 'yan (we did not want that). But I just hope that the countries...where these guys come from should understand that we have laws to follow," Duterte said in a taped address that aired on Wednesday.

Duterte also said he has no plans of rescuing Filipino drug offenders abroad, even if they run the risk of facing execution.

"Kayong mga Pilipino, sabihin ko sa inyo, 'pag nasabit kayo sa droga sa labas, hindi ako makielam...even in case 'yong sabihin na i-execute na," he said.

[Translation: To Filipinos, let me tell you that if you get involved in drug-related crimes abroad, I would not interfere, even in cases where you could get executed.]

"Sabihin ko sa ambassador (I will tell the ambassador)...you do whatever you want to do...Ako, ayaw ko. (But I won't help)," he added.

Duterte has repeatedly pushed for the reinstatement of the death penalty for drug-related crimes in the country.

In 2016, he vowed to eradicate the country's drug problem in his first three to six months in power, and resign if he failed to fulfill this campaign promise. During his last State of the Nation Address in July, he admitted he has yet to come close to defeating the drug problem.

Official data showed more than 6,000 people were killed in anti-drug operations since Duterte took office in 2016. Human rights groups said the figure could be way higher.