Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday the government is ready to face any inquiry regarding the deaths of the suspected drug dealers and users as the human rights groups widely protested over "shoot-to-kill" orders.
Almost 600 suspected drug peddlers and users have already lost their lives in extrajudicial killings since Duterte came to the power six weeks ago. But the rights groups claim the number is more than 1,000.
"We are willing to submit ourselves for an investigation before anybody," Duterte said in a speech at the national police office.
He also added that some of the killings were carried out by drug gangs.
"But do not attribute acts of other criminals upon my government. The fight against drugs will continue unrelenting until we have destroyed the apparatus operating in the entire country," Duterte said.
Next week, the head of the Senate panel on justice and human rights, Senator Leila de Lima, will open a public inquiry into drug-related killings. She has summoned national police and anti-narcotics officials to explain the anti-drug campaign.
The civil rights lawyers said there have been cases when police officers have killed suspected drug dealers in handcuffs, in police custody or inside prison cells.
The police have said they will not ignore wrongdoing but accepted that some may have been killed by rogue officers.
Recently, Duterte publicly identified 160 officials, police and judges in a name-and-shame campaign and warned them to surrender themselves or face the consequences.
"I myself, who ordered the campaign against drugs, take full and sole responsibility for it. Do not kill if you're not in danger of losing your life," Duterte said as reported by Gulf News Philippines.