Duterte ready to answer UN queries on drug killings
DAVAO CITY – President Duterte dared United Nations (UN) experts to come to the Philippines and face him in a public meeting where he would answer all their questions on drug-related extrajudicial killings.
“I would like to invite this UN expert to come to the Philippines, have a conference with me in public,” Mr. Duterte said at the Presidential Guesthouse here early Sunday.
“Extrajudicial killings?” he asked, “Why don’t you come here and let’s talk about what you are talking about.”
President Duterte said he was responsible for everything that happened between the police and suspected criminals during police operations because he had ordered the police to hunt the criminals down on the first day that he assumed office.
“You can ask your questions, all that you want to know, but allow me to ask you also, you’re an expert, I’m just a simple trial lawyer,” said Mr. Duterte, who won the elections vowing a crackdown against illegal drugs and criminals.
Earlier, two UN human rights experts urged the Philippine government to stop the unlawful killings of people suspected of drug-related crimes, as the number of suspects killed during police operations climbed to over 850 between May 10 and August 11, this year, 650 of them killed in the last six weeks alone.
“I will do the explanation in public for international release, if you want,” the President said.
“I am willing to answer for all of them,” he said, “I said, I assumed full responsibility for the things that happened between the criminals and the police during police actions.”
The President said he instructed the police on the very first day of his term to go out and hunt for these criminals.
“Arrest them if they surrender peacefully but if they put up a violent fight, then you will just have to kill them because I do not want people in government dying needlessly for doing their work,” Mr. Duterte said, noting that the government lost another policeman in the war against drugs Saturday.
“On the average on the national scheme, we lose about two, three police officers, killed in drug operations,” he said.
“I want these (UN) law experts to come here and to count the numbers of death also incurred by government with their fingers.”
He said police would not wrap criminals they killed with plastic. “It’s not the work of the police to be wrapping people with plastic and putting them into bags,” Mr. Duterte said.
“I just tell them one bullet will do. Why do you have to wrap it? It will just waste your time,” the President added.
Two UN experts earlier urged the Philippine government to put an end to the wave of extrajudicial executions and killings as a result of the government’s campaign against drugs.
“Allegations of drug-trafficking offences should be judged in a court of law, not by gunmen on the streets,” said Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on summary executions.
“Claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the Philippine government from its international legal obligations and do not shield state actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings,” said Callamard.
“Drug-dependency should be treated as a public health issue,” said UN special rapporteur on the right to health Dainius Puras. He called for systems of justice that would decriminalize drug consumption and possession for personal use, and approaches to ending drug addiction as ways to improve health outcomes.
“Intentional lethal use of force is only allowed when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life and should not be used for common policing objectives,” Callamard said. SFM
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