With the world's gaze fixed firmly on the deadly war on drugs in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has vowed to step down as leader if state-sanctioned killings can be proven. Duterte's claim comes after he extended an invite to the European Union and United Nations last week to look into thousands of deaths since he took office on 30 June.

"If there were killings, I will resign tonight. I'll give you my resignation," the Manila Standard quoted Duterte as telling reporters. "I'm not a fool to keep the presidency. Truth to tell, I don't want [the presidency]," he added.

More than 3,300 people have been killed since Duterte became president, according to police figures.

While formal invites have not yet been issued to the various organisations, the UN's Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions said: "I welcome the reports recently [conveyed] through the media that the president and government of the Philippines will invite a UN mission to investigate the alleged extrajudicial executions."

Agnes Callamard added that prior to undertaking the task, she would seek guarantees for the safety of the people she planned to speak with. "The date and scope of the fact-finding mission will be discussed and negotiated with the government, along with essential guarantees," she said.

Callamard added that this encompasses "my freedom of movement and freedom of inquiry, and the assurance that those who cooperate with me will not be the object of retaliation, such as intimidation, threats, harassment or punishment."

Despite the invitation, Duterte has insisted that it is on condition that he also be allowed to ask questions of his own "in keeping with the time-honoured principle of the right to be heard."

Duterte swept to power in May following presidential elections. During the campaign trail, the former mayor of Davao City pledged to kill so many criminals that the "fish will grow fat" in Manila Bay after feasting on dead bodies and said that 100,000 people would be killed as part of the crackdown.

Since Duterte became president, the number of deaths under the anti-narcotics campaign has averaged more than 40 per day, according to Reuters.

Rodrigo Duterte
Duterte has vowed to walk as president if international investigators can prove state-sanctioned killings Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters