Duterte: Drug War Critics ‘Weaponize Human Rights’ for ‘Self-Serving Crusades’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (not pictured) during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on August 30, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images)
HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP/Getty

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte lambasted international aid groups and “so-called friends” who have criticized his anti-drug policies at a forum in Sochi, Russia, on Friday, accusing them of going on “self-serving crusades.”

Duterte won the presidency of his country in 2016 on a platform of using heavily police force – including extrajudicial killings – against accused drug criminals and their associates in public office. He has retained high approval ratings for the past three years largely on fulfilling the promise of unleashing the police to kill suspects and ask questions later.

The policy has triggered condemnation from international human rights organizations and a petition against Duterte at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity.

Duterte is currently in Russia on a diplomatic visit and discussed his frustration with the international community at the Valdai Forum in Sochi.

“Some of our partners have hurled unfair criticisms against my government about perceived excesses in our fight against drugs,” Duterte told the forum, asking, “Is this how friends treat each other?”

“They create rules and norms for almost everyone, and some refuse to be bound by the same. Think of the (United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea), the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and even the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” he said. “They weaponize human rights oblivious to its damaging consequences to the very people they seek to protect. Just look at the chaos and instability that ensued in Libya and Iraq following military interventions.”

Duterte appeared to be referencing America’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and China’s constant, flagrant invasions of Philippine waters in contravention of the Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It is unclear which nation he was referring to when mentioning the Convention on the Rights of the Child, though climate alarmist Greta Thunberg recently used that law to sue five nations – Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, and Turkey – for not cutting back on pollutants enough to save humanity, according to her demand.

He noted that the Philippines has lost some contracts for defense equipment because of his use of these weapons against drug suspects without due process of law. Duterte defended his campaign against drug crime, stating, “we only seek to curb criminality that corrodes the very structure of government … Is this not something that all nations are entitled to? Is this not what democratically elected governments are mandated to do?”

Critics of the drug war chip away that Manila’s sovereignty “and “they clip our wings making it more difficult for us to effect meaningful change for our people,” he argued.

“We are tired of the misguided and self-serving crusades of the few. It is time that they are challenged,” he asserted.

The Philippine Inquirer noted Duterte went out of his way to identify America as not among the parties that he was complaining about.

“The US is a close friend of the Philippines – in fact, our only treaty ally. We have deep ties with the American people, forged by shared history and nourished by common values. America certainly can offer so much more [to] the world,” he said.

He also, the Philippine Star noted, insisted that any errors in the drug war that result in damage to national integrity are his responsibility.

“If someday somebody has to be hanged, I will be happy. I will even put the noose on my neck and say ‘go ahead’ or if you want to shoot me in a firing squad, fine,” he said.

“I do not aspire for honor. I do not aspire to be known. I’m just a citizen, a worker of government and I will do what I have to do to protect the people especially the next generation.”

“I am not a killer… I have yet to kill one human being. When I say ‘I will kill you’ that’s a statement coming from the mouth,” Duterte added, referring to the fact that he routinely uses the phrase “I will kill you” in his public remarks.

Duterte has insulted foreign leaders and human rights activists on a regular basis for challenging his calls for police to eradicate drug crime by killing suspects. In 2017, following a meeting with leftist Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Duterte told reporters that he dismissed Trudeau’s “bullshit” attempts to scold him for his drug policies.

“[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,” Duterte said. “I will not answer to any other bullshit, especially foreigners. Lay off.”

Trudeau is currently embroiled in scandal for being exposed as a blackface enthusiast, telling reporters he has worn the racist body paint so often that he did not remember every time he had done it.

On a separate occasion from his encounter with Trudeau, Duterte railed against the United Nations for questioning his human rights record.

“You go and file a complaint in the United Nations. I will burn down the United Nations if you want. I will burn it down if I go to America,” Duterte said in 2016.

At a separate speech, he complained that “these white people … these American blockheads … for every five Americans, three out of five are idiots, and only two are in their right minds.”

Last year, he referred to then-U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein as a “son of a whore” who had “a big head, but it’s empty … it cannot even sustain a nutrient for your hair to grow because his hair here is gone.” Al Hussein is bald.

Duterte arrived in Moscow this week for meetings with senior Russian leaders and appearances at various public events. He has referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin in the past as his “idol” and “favorite leader.”

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