MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday declared that he would answer only to the Filipino people and not to foreigners who would raise a howl over the country’s human rights record and the supposed extrajudicial killings attending his drug war.
Aside from the issue of human rights, Duterte also told reporters in a press conference after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit that China had agreed to bind itself to a Code of Conduct still being negotiated by senior ministers of the parties to the dispute. The president also reported that the leaders of Southeast Asian nations and other global players had expressed concern over the looming threat of terrorism in the region. Duterte said that he treated Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s expression of his country’s concern over the human rights situation in the Philippines as a “personal and official insult” because foreigners were unaware of the situation on the ground.
“[I]t is a personal and official insult. That is why you hear me chewing down curses, epithets, nagmumura (cursing), bullshit and everything because it angers me when you are a foreigner you do not know what is happening in this country,” he said in the wide-ranging media briefing. The Philippine leader stressed that he would answer only to the Filipino people over the supposed extralegal killings marring his anti-drugs campaign. “I was elected by the people of the Republic of the Philippines. I only answer to the people of the Republic of the Philippines,” he said, adding that he would explain to a farmer or a fisherman but not to a foreigner. He called on his foreign critics to investigate first what was happening in the country and don’t just rely on records and figures from the political opposition and communists whom he accused of producing “falsified” information. “You don’t even investigate. You only show before the United Nations a record of how many persons died you claim to be extra-judicially. I said you can investigate. Look, guys, what I am really asking, ‘Why don’t you investigate first and find out the truth. Whatever happened why are you not giving us in government the simple rule of the right of the heard,’” the tough-talking Duterte said. The president conceded that there may be illegal killings in his drug war, but he insisted that he ordered the suspension and apprehension of the cops involved just like in the killings of teenagers in Caloocan City. The president also bared the jitters that regional leaders felt during the summit following a deadly and costly siege of Marawi City by Islamic State group-inspired militants. Philstar Duterte said that the leaders had agreed to work together and strengthen their defense against these threats. “Everybody is scared with the new vogue of dying just suddenly in the explosion of whatever. We vowed to work closely. We discussed it in the confidential meetings,” he said. He also mentioned that the world leaders congratulated him over the country’s successful reclaiming of Marawi and the “heroism” of the soldiers and policemen who led the fight. The president also told reporters that the leaders were also cognizant of the losses the Philippines suffered in the fight, where more than 1,000 people were killed most of whom combatants. Aside from deaths, most of the lakeside town’s center was left in ruins due to the incessant ground and air assaults during the battle. “We have been stretched thin by the events,” he said, adding that the ASEAN summit would be the last major event for the country as the government should focus on the rehabilitation efforts in Marawi which were estimated to cost Manila at least P50 billion. The president also announced that China had agreed to bind itself to an eventual code of conduct that the senior ministers of the region would forge as a way to manage relations of nations in the disputed waters. He said that China had assured him that the freedom of over-flight in the West Philippine Sea would remain “unbridled and unfettered.” Beijing has recently transformed uninhabitable features in area into islands capable of hosting military structures and armaments, raising fears that China is using its military might to stake its claim. China has also agreed to consider hastening up the negotiations on a code of conduct, according to the Philippine leader. He stressed that going to war over the waters would not be wise considering the threat of a nuclear war posed by North Korea.Philstar