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WATCH | Duterte admits there were some EJKs in war on drugs

President Rodrigo Duterte talks about the war on drugs during an interview with News5 chief Luchi Cruz-Valdes in Malacanang, Dec. 29, 2016. TV5 SCREENSHOT
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte admitted that it will be very difficult to hold accountable all personalities involved in illegal drugs in six-months' time and it may take all of his six-year term to accomplish the almost impossible task. But, he said, it can be done.

In an interview with News5 chief Luchi Cruz-Valdes, Duterte said that, in some cases, extrajudicial killings happened during the government’s war on drugs.

He apologized to the families of innocent people who were killed in the crossfire and were considered “collateral damage” as the police waged its relentless campaign against illegal drugs.

Wala naman gustong pumatay. Wala naman akong sinabi sa kanila (No one wants to kill. I never told them to) ‘fire indiscriminately,’” Duterte said.

He said he will not allow the campaign against illegal drugs to be used by policemen holding personal grudges against other people.

The President likewise explained that it is very hard to catch the big-time drug lords because they have to be caught “actually in possession of the drugs”. Unless he catches them “doing drugs, cooking drugs or selling drugs,” he will be hard put to produce evidence of the crime.  That is where the serious problem lies, added Duterte, a former prosecutor before being elected Davao mayor for two decades.

This -- the high bar required for successfully putting away drug syndicates -- is also why, he said, he cannot just yet lift the state of lawlessness he had earlier declared.

Duterte appealed to the people: “You elected me as President. You must have trusted me. You have trust in me. When I say that it’s time to lift it, I will lift it.”