Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said in televised remarks Monday that he took responsibility for thousands of extrajudicial killings under his government’s war on drugs. Duterte has encouraged police and shadowy state agents to kill drug users and dealers since taking office in mid-2016. The deaths of nearly 6,000 drug suspects have been reported by police, but human-rights watchdogs suspect the death toll is far higher. “If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war,” Duterte said. “If you get killed, it’s because I’m enraged by drugs,” he said. “If that’s what I’m saying, bring me to court to be imprisoned. Fine, I have no problem. If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly.” Duterte, a former government prosecutor, said, “saving” his country from drugs was a sacred duty.
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