"We shouldn't jump the gun and say that they're automatically extrajudicial killings, such that extrajudicial means it has the badge of the government," says Kris Ablan, assistant secretary at the Presidential Communications Office.

Nobody can claim to be surprised. The carnage is exactly what Duterte promised. "All of you who are into drugs, you sons of bitches, I will really kill you," he said before his election.

Paragraphs above are cited from Time magazine:
Inside Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s War On Drugs

What do such that extrajudicial and Nobody can claim to be surprised. mean here?

I have already checked Oxford dictionary. It says 'such that' means 'to the extent that' but I still don't get it. And there's one more question. Why is 'such that' followed by 'extrajudicial' instead of 'extrajudicial killings'?🤔


2 Answers 2


I don't believe that such that is being used correctly here. I suspect that Ablan is not a native speaker, so it's possible that he made a mistake while speaking. He is trying to use such that to define "extrajudicial". Instead of such that, a native speaker might say

We shouldn't jump the gun and say that they're automatically extrajudicial killings. And by extrajudicial, I mean having the badge of the government.

He focuses on "extrajudicial" because that's what he wants to define. Presumably, the audience knows what "killings" are, and so once you know the meaning of "extrajudicial" (as he defines it), then you know what "extrajudicial killings" are. Further, he might be thinking that he is making this word up, or he might be thinking that he is using the word incorrectly. So that might be why he wants to clarify what he means.

"Nobody can claim to be surprised" is kind of like saying "everyone should have expected this" or "no one can feign ignorance". This is because Duterte made it very clear from the beginning that he would allow these kinds of killings to happen.

  • Do you mean a native speaker wouldn't use 'such that' to define a word? Sep 27, 2016 at 3:45
  • I doubt it. Here are some senses of "such that" with which I am familiar. 1. In the math sense, which imposes restrictions on something. For example, "x in R such that x is even". 2. "To the extent being" 3. "In such a way" 4. "so that". None of these seem to fit. Here is a discussion on "such that" from ELU. I couldn't think of a good way to rephrase the quotation from Ablan using "such that". Maybe something like "... extrajudicial killings such that [they] have the badge of the government".
    – Em.
    Sep 27, 2016 at 4:13
  • Notice that "such that" in my example is not meant to define any particular word, but instead it indicates the result.
    – Em.
    Sep 27, 2016 at 4:18

Time is defining what "extrajudicial" means in the previous sentence. That's why they're defining "extrajudicial" rather than "extrajudicial killings"

...such that "extrajudicial" means that "it has the badge of government".

If they would have expanded it to "extrajudicial killings", then they would also have needed to expand their definition by replacing "it" with "the killings" - which would have been quite a stark statement...

And "Nobody can claim to be surprised" means that if anyone does claim "I am surprised!", then they're ignoring the exact quote referenced in the article:

All of you who are into drugs ... I will really kill you

It's a common idiom: it implies that anyone who tries to do what is said is either a) a liar; b) hopelessly uninformed; or c) ingenuous (massively naïve).

  • Thank you! Does using 'such that' to define a word strikes your ears as odd? Sep 27, 2016 at 3:50
  • "Odd" is a little strong. It's formal, and uncommon, but not "odd" as in wrong. I agree with Max that it is difficult to rephrase it Sep 27, 2016 at 9:12

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