Duterte Vows to ‘Forget About Human Rights’ If Islamic State Attacks Philippines

AFP/Ted Aljibe
AFP/Ted Aljibe

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has once again threatened to eschew international human rights norms in the context of battling the Islamic State (ISIS), warning that the impending liberation of ISIS hotbeds like Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria, may result in a stream of jihadists making a new home in his nation.

“Once the terrorists of the Middle East are deprived of the land area, the real estate area where they can sleep. … They will wander to other places and they will come here and we have to prepare for that,” Duterte said on Monday, according to Reuters. “Remember, these guys, they do not have an iota of what is human rights, believe me. I will not just simply allow my people to be slaughtered for the sake of human rights; that’s bullshit,” he asserted, promising that if the Islamic State made a play for the Philippines, “forget about human rights.”

Duterte had promised to stop swearing in October, claiming God had personally told him he needed to clean up his act. He later claimed the promise was a “joke.” He has not, however, heeded warnings from the United Nations and international NGOs to subscribe to international human rights standards regarding the use of force against drug criminals. Duterte assumed the presidency in June after winning on a forceful law and order platform.

Duterte, Reuters notes, was speaking at a law enforcement agency about the “looming terrorism” in the nation’s Muslim-minority populated south.

The president’s remarks appear to disregard that an Islamic State affiliate is already active in the Philippines and raises questions regarding Duterte’s own attempts at negotiating peace with domestic radical Islamic groups. Duterte himself said in August that, on “some parts of the islands of Mindanao, there are white people. I suppose they are Arabs, and they are here as missionaries. … They are here for indoctrination. That’s what I’m afraid of.”

“We have problems with Muslim insurgency, and we have to address them before they get contaminated by the ISIS disease,” Duterte said, promising a 20,000 troop deployment to southern Mindanao.

The terrorist group Abu Sayyaf makes its home in Mindanao and has pledged allegiance to Islamic State “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Reuters notes that they are currently believed to be holding 21 hostages, taking six Vietnamese hostages last week. The terrorists attacked a Vietnamese ship in Philippine waters, shooting a crew member. The group claims to have taken another hostage, a German national, on Friday. Abu Sayyaf has beheaded a foreigner this year after his nation of origin refused to pay their ransom and has threatened to abduct outspoken Christian Senator Manny Pacquiao, better known as a boxing champion.

Duterte has previously promised to “eat” Abu Sayyaf terrorists. He has appeared far more open to cooperating with Mindanao’s other major Islamic terrorist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The MILF group has praised Duterte on numerous occasions and burned piles of drugs in a gesture of support for Duterte’s war on drugs. Duterte, in turn, has said that he is open to cooperating with the group on a peace deal and adding them to the ranks of those aiding his war on drugs, but that the group must first disavow and prove they no longer have any links to Abu Sayyaf. Duterte, a Mindanao native, courted the Muslim vote in the Southern Philippines as a candidate and has alienated some Christian voters with his use of profanity and invective against Pope Francis.


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