Duterte: ‘I won’t answer any Caucasian’ asking about drug war
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday declared that he would never be tried by an international tribunal for the thousands of killings in his brutal war on drugs, saying he would only face trial in a Philippine court.
“I will not answer a Caucasian asking questions, or [any] white man there. You must be stupid. Who are you? I am a Filipino, we have our courts here. Why would you have to bring me somewhere else? I would not like that,” the President said in a television interview with a celebrity pastor.
Little chance of prosecution
“Look, as I have told you before, ladies and gentlemen of the world, including all the governments there, I will only be tried or face a trial in a Philippine court presided [over] by a Filipino judge, prosecuted by a Filipino,” he said.
“And maybe they can reimpose [the] death penalty then [I can] die in Filipino hands,” he added.
His critics, however, say that with an approval rating of about 80 percent, a supermajority in Congress and presidential appointees heading courts, commissions and investigative bodies, there is little chance of the President being impeached or prosecuted at home.
The President’s latest show of defiance came days after the UN Human Rights Council adopted Iceland’s resolution that sought an international probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines, specifically the thousands of killings in his war on drugs.
The UN-backed International Criminal Court (ICC) is also conducting a preliminary examination of information filed against the President and his officials for crimes against humanity, also in connection with thousands of extrajudicial killings in his drug campaign.
Mr. Duterte has rejected the ICC probe and canceled the Philippines’ ICC membership.
He has also dismissed the Iceland resolution, insisting that any international concern about human rights abuses in the Philippines is blown out of proportion.
“I have my country. It’s working, I know it’s working, justice is working here,” he said in the television interview early on Wednesday.
Drugs prevalent no more
The President also apparently changed his tune about the prevalence of drugs in the Philippines, claiming it was now “quite low,” resulting in a lower crime rate.
He also suggested that there would be no letup in his campaign against illegal drugs, considering his “accomplishments” in reducing the volume of available narcotics on the streets and better peace and order.
“Well, one is that I have to preserve the accomplishments. The drug situation is quite low and therefore the crime rate, the index crimes, also went down,” he said.
“There are less drugs on the streets … I intend to keep it low if not eradicate all,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President said he was “seriously considering” severing diplomatic relations with Iceland because of Reykjavic’s action in the UN human rights body, but learned that some 2,000 Filipinos were working in the Nordic country.
“I learned that there are about 2,000 workers in Iceland … So I said I am seriously considering because it might affect the relations between our citizens and the host country,” he said.
Iceland “might not like the way we behave toward them, and so it would prompt them to take measures,” he said. “I hope they do not have to do it because I will not also take it sitting down.”
The POresident acknowledged Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s earlier statements that there would be no cutting of ties despite the Iceland resolution.
The President, however, asserted his prerogative to decide the Philippines’ foreign relations.
“Teddy Boy Locsin said no, he’s not cutting. As for me, I said I am seriously considering it. He is the spokesman but the Office of the President is the sole entity. That includes foreign affairs, because they are all Cabinet members,” the President said. —With report from the wires
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