MANILA, Philippines — Critics of President Rodrigo Duterte are judging him by a different set of standards on the issue of extrajudicial killings, one of his staunchest supporters complained.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who ran but lost as Duterte’s vice president in the 2016 elections, griped that “they’re not using the same apple-to-apple instruments of measurement with the past administration” of former President Benigno Aquino III.
Duterte continues to be the target of criticism here and abroad for the thousands of lives lost in the “war on drugs” his administration has been waging since he took office last year.
Most recently, the lawyer of Edgar Matobato, the self-confessed hitman of the Davao Death Squad, which Duterte allegedly created when he was mayor of the southern Mindanao city, asked the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to look into the possibility of trying him for crimes against humanity.
However, Cayetano claimed, “if you use the same definition with (EJKs) in the Aquino and Duterte administrations, then there will be 77,000 EJKs during the Aquino admin(istration).”
He also defended Duterte’s handling of the country’s territorial dispute with China, saying the administration’s foreign policy is to “be a friend to all and an enemy to none.”
Critics have questioned Duterte’s stance towards China, which has seesawed between almost cloying amity and bursts of braggadocio that he has invariably taken back, such as his order to the military to build structures on Philippine-claimed islands and his plan to raise the national colors on Pag-asa Island.
But Cayetano claimed, “If you talk to the experts (on) the (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), they are not approaching it by, ‘How do you solve the dispute there?’ They’re approaching it (by asking), ‘How do you manage’” the problem.