Duterte denies ordering drug killings as UN experts urge probe

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s said he never ordered the killings of drug dealers. (AFP pic)

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he never ordered police to kill suspects in his campaign against illegal drugs, as human rights experts from the United Nations called for a probe into the deaths.

“I did not say: kill this person because he’s a drug pusher or drug importer. What I said to them: ‘Destroy the apparatus of the drug organisation’,” Duterte said in an interview with a local religious leader, according to transcript released Saturday.

UN human rights experts, in a statement released Friday, called for an independent investigation into alleged human rights violations in the Philippines, including supposed unlawful killings brought about by Duterte’s drug war.

More than 5,000 drug suspects have died in police operations since the president assumed office in 2016, based on latest government data.