The Filipino police use automatic weapons when confronting criminals, meaning that minors and innocent people have allegedly got caught up in the violence
In an interview with Al Jazeera, President Rodrigo Duterte said that the cases would be investigated, but explained that the police can kill hundreds of civilians without facing any criminal liability.
He said: “We have three million drug addicts, and it”s growing. So if we do not interdict this problem, the next generation will be having a serious problem.
“You destroy my country, I”ll kill you. And it”s a legitimate thing. If you destroy our young children, I will kill you. That is a very correct statement.”
He added that there is no law stating that the president “cannot threaten criminals”.
He said: “I do not care what the human rights guys say. I have a duty to preserve the generation.
“If it involves human rights, I don”t give a s***. I have to strike fear because the enemies of the state are out there to destroy the children.”
He gave the example of an officer using an M16 rifle to deal with a “gangster” armed with a pistol.
He said: “When they meet, they exchange fire. With the policeman and the M16, it”s one burst, brrr, and [he] hits 1,000 people there and they die.
“It could not be negligence because you have to save your life. It could not be recklessness because you have to defend yourself.”
Mr Duterte, known for his controversial remarks, then compared the killing of Filipino civilians by the state to the deaths of innocents in Vietnam and Afghanistan at the hands of US airstrikes.
He said: “When you bomb a village you intend to kill the militants but you kill the children there … Why do you say it”s collateral damage to the West and to us it is murder?”
The Philippines” war on drugs, which Mr Duterte says will save the country, has seen over 3,800 people killed by law enforcement and vigilante groups since he took office on June 30, according to Philippine National Police statistics.
During his election campaign, the now-President admitted that while Mayor of Davao, he was behind the Davao Death Squad, a group responsible for the deaths of hundred of pretty criminals and drug dealers.