Duterte: ‘I’m on right track’ on human rights

Posted on March 20, 2017

AMID MOUNTING criticisms from international rights watchers over his bloody war on drugs, President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday said he is “on the right track” as far as the human rights situation in the country is concerned.

Mr. Duterte made the statement in a press conference in Davao City on Sunday, March 19, where he was asked if the issue on alleged human rights violations in his drug war was raised during his Friday meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

“We never discussed human rights. They are so courteous,” Mr. Duterte, who is known for his profanity-laced remarks, said. “Because if you say that, if you utter those things in my presence, you’ll get an insult. So what we did was to discuss transnational crimes, terrorism.”

“Australia? I will not pick a fight. Do not ever do that because if you can say one thing bad about me, I can say five things bad about you,” he added.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Australia recently slammed Ms. Bishop for meeting Mr. Duterte in Davao City, saying, “Bishop should think long and hard before smiling for selfies with someone who could eventually be indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

Since Mr. Duterte took office in June last year, more than 8,000 people have been killed in his government’s war on drugs. Meanwhile, 2,500 of these fatalities were attributed to “legitimate police operations.”

Human rights groups claim many other drug-related deaths were state-sponsored -- extralegal executions committed by the police -- adding that Mr. Duterte could be liable for crimes against humanity before the ICC.

Early this month, the drugs war was relaunched in what Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director-General Ronald M. dela Rosa vowed would be a less violent campaign.

In the same news conference yesterday, Mr. Duterte said every nation commits a mistake, but he would never err on the subject of human rights. “I am on the right track, I would say,” the firebrand leader said.

“Follow the law and we’re all right. Drop the shabu (methamphetamine) and nobody will die tomorrow. But I will not be intimidated and I shall not be stopped by just... What? International Criminal Court? Impeachment?” he added. -- Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral