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UN chief ‘misinformed,’ say 2 close Duterte allies

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte does not endorse extrajudicial killings, his allies said on Friday after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned his comments seen as justifying the murder of journalists in the Philippines.

READ: UN chief slams Duterte

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Duterte’s camp issued no statement responding to Ban’s remarks to UN correspondents at a reception in New York on Wednesday, but incoming Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay and Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, president of the new ruling party, PDP-Laban, defended the controversial mayor of Davao City.

In his statement to UN correspondents, Ban strongly condemned Duterte’s recent comments about the killings of journalists in the Philippines.

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“I am extremely disturbed by recent remarks by the President-elect of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. I unequivocally condemn his apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killings, which is illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms,” Ban said.

“Such comments are of particular concern in light of ongoing impunity for serious cases of violence against journalists in the Philippines,” he said.

‘Misquoted by PH media’

Sought for comment on Ban’s remarks, Yasay said Ban had been misinformed and had “no basis” to criticize Duterte.

READ: Incoming DFA chief hits UN response to Duterte on killings

In a text message to the Inquirer, Yasay said Duterte “did not justify media killings.”

He said Duterte had been “misquoted by Philippine media.”

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“Furthermore, Mr. Ban Ki-moon had no basis to react and make such statements in reaction to expressions made by an individual who is not yet sitting as President,” Yasay said.

He said the United Nations’ headquarters should have clarified Duterte’s statements with the Philippine government through its mission to the world body.

“If at all, [Ban] should have sought a clarification from official channels and not deemed Mr. Duterte’s comments government policy or pronouncement,” he said.

A senior official at the Department of Foreign Affairs said he believed Ban had been misinformed about Duterte’s statements.

“I believe President-elect Duterte should not explain his statements. Anyway, he has not assumed the presidency yet,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

‘Matter of fact’ statements

Pimentel said the incoming President had just made “matter of fact” statements about the situation faced by mercenaries in the press.

According to Pimentel, what Duterte had said was that when “sons of bitches” from the media defame certain people, those people could decide to take the law into their own hands.

In such a situation, the journalists cannot show those people the Constitution and say, “You can’t touch me,” Pimentel said.

“It is not an endorsement [of journalist killings]. Did he say, Go, kill them’? He did not,” he said.

Pimentel said Duterte did not say the murderers of journalists should not be punished.

“One of his platforms is upholding the rule of law,” Pimentel said.

“[E]xtrajudicial killing is a crime, one of the crimes of the highest order,” he added.

The controversy began last week when the foul-mouthed Duterte told a press conference that journalists who took bribes or engaged in corrupt activities deserved to die.

“Even if you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch,” he said.

Duterte, who has been linked to vigilante killings in Davao City, raised the case of Jun Pala, a journalist and politician whose 2003 murder, like scores of others, has never been solved.

Journalists outraged

“I do not want to diminish his memory but he was a rotten son of a bitch. He deserved it,” Duterte said.

His statements drew criticism from human rights groups and sparked outrage from international news organizations.

The international correspondents’ group Reporters Without Borders urged Filipino journalists to boycott Duterte’s news briefings, angering the brash local politician who responded by banning reporters from his activities and guesthouse in Davao.

Media organizations, however, continue to cover Duterte, but he has stopped calling press conferences, talking only to reporters from public broadcaster PTV 4. With a report from AFP

 

 

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TAGS: Ban Ki-moon, Duterte, extrajudicial killings, Perfecto Yasay, Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, UN, UN Chief, UN Secretary General, United Nations
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