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MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Tuesday reminded public officials to uphold the rule of law after Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte admitted that he was behind the infamous death squad that supposedly executed criminals in his turf.
In a press briefing, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. disagreed with observations that the public supports Duterte's brand of crime busting because of weak law enforcement in the country.
"Ang ating paniwala ay rule of law o batas ang umiiral sa ating bansa at tungkulin ng pangulo bilang chief executive na ipatupad ang lahat ng mga batas at ang pinaniniwalaan nating prinsipyo ay ito na ang mga lingkod-bayan ay dapat na pinaiiral din 'yung batas," Coloma said.
In an interview with local television show Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa, Duterte admitted that he was behind the notorious Davao Death Squad, which supposedly targeted criminals in his city.
Duterte even dared the international group Human Rights Watch to file a case against him after the watchdog called on the Philippine government to investigate the mayor.
Though he again denied that he will be running for president, Duterte said the number of executed criminals might increase to thousands once he gets elected as chief executive.
The Palace was not alarmed by Duterte's statements.
"Doon kasi sa sistema natin ng batas ay meron naman tayong mga proseso. Hindi naman uubra 'yung mga salita lamang," Coloma said.
"Kinakailangan ay evidence-based at iyon nga, na meron naman tayong sistema ng due process. Hindi din tayo pwedeng maghusga o magkondena na batay sa salita lamang," he added.
Coloma reiterated that it is up to the Department of Justice to investigate Duterte and his alleged links to the Davao Death Squad.
He assured that Duterte will be given due process.
"Ang ating sistema ng batas ay batay sa katibayan at meron din tayong sinusunod na due process of law," Coloma said.
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