​VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Cayetano rehashes debunked claims in Al Jazeera interview

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, in an interview with Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan on Oct. 6, defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs by making, at least three false claims, in a span of 12 minutes, which have already been debunked in media.


Six minutes into the interview, Cayetano said the previous administration under Benigno S. Aquino III “changed the definition” of extrajudicial killings (EJKs). He said:

“The past administration changed the definition. They said it’s only extrajudicial if you’re a union leader, if you’re a religious leader, if you’re a journalist, if it’s ideological. So they started reporting 50, 100, 150. When Duterte came in, they went back to the old definition and anyone murdered or killed was charged against the drug war.”

Source: How the Philippines defends Duterte’s drug war, watch from 5:52 to 6:15


The claim, a repeat of an earlier statement Cayetano made during the third cycle of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review in Geneva May 8, has no basis. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Was the definition of EJKs changed under the Duterte administration?)

The Philippines lacks a law defining EJKs, although there are jurisprudence outlining what these are. In 2007, the Supreme Court has defined “extra-legal killings” to include killings of suspected criminals without due process.

Cayetano attributed the supposed “change” in definition to Administrative Order No. 35, signed by former president Benigno Aquino III in 2012.

The order, intended to create a committee to expedite the resolution of killings, limited the scope of EJKs to political and cause-oriented killings, among others. But since it is an order and not a law, it doesn’t provide a comprehensive definition of EJKs.

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2017-10-12 11:00:31 UTC



Twelve minutes into the interview, Cayetano said Duterte “never jokes about rape.” He said:

“He did not joke. He was talking about what happened in the 80s, and what he said, and what the context of it. He never jokes about rape, he’s very mad about rape…”

Source: How the Philippines defends Duterte’s drug war, watch from 12:18 to 12:29


An earlier compilation of Duterte’s sexist comments, some of them admissions of sexual assault, disproves Cayetano’s claim that the president never made rape a laughing matter. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Has Duterte never disrespected women?)

In numerous occasions, Duterte’s rape remarks drew laughter from the audience and subsequent flak.

At the height of the 2016 presidential campaign, Duterte came under fire for saying, as city mayor, he “should have been first” in raping Australian missionary Jacqueline Hamill, who was gang raped and killed by Davao City prison inmates in 1989.

More, the president, in another speech, regaled his audience with a story about his confession to a Jesuit priest how he sexually violated a domestic worker.

Duterte again made fun of rape in July, this time aiming at Miss Universe pageant winners, saying he would congratulate a rapist who would even dare knowing he could be executed later.

Beyond anecdotes relating to rape, he promised to claim responsibility for rape committed by government troops assigned to implement martial law in Mindanao.

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2017-10-12 11:08:16 UTC



Immediately after his claim that the president never jokes about rape, Cayetano said Davao City, where Duterte was mayor for more than 22 years, is “one of the safest places” in the country. He said:

“He never jokes about rape, he’s very mad about rape, and Davao is one of the safest places.”

Source: How the Philippines defends Duterte’s drug war, watch from 12:27 to 12:32


Cayetano’s statement echoes Duterte’s earlier claims about Davao City’s supposedly sterling peace and order situation.

Philippine National Police data from 2010 to 2015 reveal a different story. Davao City ranked fourth among cities with the highest number of index crimes. It also had the most number of murder incidents. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Is Davao City ‘relatively safe?’)

Index crimes include murder, homicide, physical injury, theft and rape, among others.

Also contrary to Cayetano’s claim that Davao City is safe when it comes to rape, PNP Crime Environment data show the number of rape incidents rose by 23.4 percent during Duterte’s last term as city mayor.

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2017-10-12 11:15:38 UTC


Sources:, How the Philippines defends Duterte’s drug war

Department of Justice, Administrative Order No. 35, s. 2012

Department of Justice, Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) on Extra-Legal Killings, Enforced Disappearance Meet to Adopt Guidelines on Investigation and Prosecution

GMA News Online, Duterte makes fresh rape joke, Duterte’s latest rape joke aimed at Miss Universe

Official Annotations to the Rule on the Privilege of the Writ of Amparo (Download here.)

Philippine National Police, Letter of Instructions 02/09 Unit Crime Periodic Report (UCPER)

Philippine National Police, Quick Look Crime Environment Report, National Level and Davao City

Philippine National Police, Top 15 Highest Number of Index Crimes, Duterte’s new rape joke aims at Miss Universe

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative.)