Cayetano: Killings probe not doing good to PH image

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Sen. Cayetano said the killings probe has affected the country's tourism and economic trade.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — A staunch ally and a running mate in the last national polls, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano takes up the cudgels for the administration's ongoing controversial campaign to rid the country of illegal drugs.

In a privilege speech on Wednesday, Cayetano said there seemed to be a confusion among people about the government policy — and clarified that the policy was not to kill but to save more lives.

He said those involved in illegal drugs were mostly the ones committing heinous crimes.

The senator also presented videos of president Rodrigo Duterte's past speeches saying he wanted more drug rehabilitation centers built in the country.

Cayetano took a swipe at Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairman Chito Gascon who, according to the senator, had been quiet in the past but had become very vocal when Sen. Leila De Lima started a Senate probe on extrajudicial killings (EJK).

Related: Dead or alive: Is the Philippines' war on drugs out of control?

Cayetano maintained EJK hearings were not helping the image of the country in the international community.

He said it has affected tourism, economic trade and has discredited the efforts of the administration and the national police.

Cayetano also took offense at how De Lima was projecting the state of the country to the international media.

For instance, on the number of people killed to date.

De Lima said the number has reached 2,000 but the Philippine National Police (PNP) said there were only less than 800 killed during police operations.

Cayetano explained this would not do the country any good in the face of the President's first overseas trip next week where he would be meeting with world leaders like U.S. President Barrack Obama.

He said it wouldn't look good if while Duterte was meeting with heads of state, and yet at home, he was being blamed for the killings.

Related: De Lima, officials in Duterte drug matrix may face graft charges

Cayetano also hinted at the idea of De Lima dropping her chairmanship in the Justice committee, which was holding probes on EJK in relation to the anti-drug campaign. He said there was conflict of interest since the lady senator was also being linked to illegal drugs.

De Lima was absent during the session. She was indisposed, according to her staff.

CNN Philippines' Cecille Lardizabal contributed to this report.