Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has defiantly refused to cooperate with a UN human rights tribunal, saying that if he is ever to be put on trial over his ‘War on Drugs’, it would have to be in the Philippines.
The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution last Thursday to investigate alleged human rights abuses by Duterte’s government as part of Manila’s ‘War on Drugs.’ The measure was introduced to the 48-member international body by Iceland, prompting Duterte to consider severing ties with the Nordic nation.
In an interview with Philippines pastor Apollo Quiboloy on Wednesday, Duterte said that he would never recognize the UN organization’s authority.
“I will only face, be tried or face a trial in a Philippine court, presided by a Filipino judge, [and] prosecuted by a Filipino,” he said. Duterte described the human rights institution as “stupid” for expecting him to answer to a Westerner.
“I will not answer a Caucasian…You must be stupid. Who are you? I am a Filipino. We have our courts here,” he said.
The UNHRC’s move has not come out of the blue. As part of his war on drugs, Duterte’s state security forces have engaged in thousands of extrajudicial killings and other abuses, according to Western human rights organizations.
“President Duterte’s policies –which include directly encouraging unlawful killing– have seen thousands of people murdered with total impunity amid growing lawlessness, with extrajudicial executions in homes and on the country’s streets still happening on a daily-basis,” said Rachel Chhoa Howard, Amnesty International’s Philippines researcher.
Amnesty has even called for Duterte to be investigated for crimes against humanity. Walden Bello, a former member of the Philippine’s House of Representatives and now an academic in the US, has described Duterte as a fascist.
“Probably no fascist personality since Hitler has used the mandate of a plurality at the polls to reshape the political arena more swiftly and decisively than Duterte in 2016,” Bello wrote in The Nation magazine in 2017.
A poll released earlier this month showed record popularity for the president, however, with 80 percent of Filipinos and Filipinas approving of his performance –breaking the record approval he set in June 2017 and repeated in March this year– with only 12 percent dissatisfied.