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Yasay blames media for Duterte’s scathing words vs. UN

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. on Monday blamed the media for highlighting President Rodrigo Duterte's scathing remarks against the United Nations in a post-midnight press conference on Sunday, claiming the Chief executive's statements were taken out of context.

The media, Yasay said, should have given President Rodrigo Duterte some latitude when he issued biting comments against the world body in a news conference because he was once again confronted with international criticisms of the killings attributed to his war on drugs.

He said the media should have realized that the President made the statements "in the wee hours of the morning and he was very tired."

"He already ended up the press conference as I have observed, but the press were still leading him with a lot of questions, so it is in this context that he made this statements," Yasay said.

"When you were specially tired, disappointed, frustrated and angry and under these circumstances, we must give a leeway on the part of the President for this kind of reaction," he added.

"Like us, he is also human, but I can assure you that the President is very responsible in making statements. He does not make statements unless he means them," Yasay said.

Duterte, however, clearly threatened during the nationally-televised news conference over the weekend to withdraw the Philippines' membership in the UN and even added that he may invite other countries, including China and African nations, to form a new international organization. Philippine financial contributions, used for the upkeep of the world body, should be returned, the president said.

Duterte did not say that his statements were just expressions of frustration.

When asked about the possible repercussions of his remarks, Duterte stuck to his threat and continued to blame the UN body for making what he said were inappropriate remarks about his anti-drugs campaign.

"Maybe we'll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations. If you are that disrespectful, son of a bitch, we will leave you,” Duterte said.

"Give us back our contributions, we would go out,” he added.

“We contribute a certain amount for the maintenance of UN, right? You return the money to us and we will go out. With that amount I can build so many rehab centers," Duterte said.

Asked about the possible repercussions of the Philippines’ withdrawal from the UN, Duterte replied: "I don't give a shit to them, they are the one interfering."

UN Special Rapporteurs Agnes Callamard and Dainius Puras last week called on Duterte to stop the killings of persons accused of drug involvement and for the Philippine government to observe due process.

Duterte and Yasay said the UN rapporteurs broke protocol in criticizing the government’s domestic policies.

Duterte's crackdown on drugs – said to be the largest and bloodiest in recent Philippine history -  has left nearly 1,000 suspected drug-dealers dead and more than 4,000 arrested since he took office in June 30.

Apart from the UN, human rights groups, the Catholic Church and even Manila’s ally, the United States, have expressed alarm over the surge of killings.

Before the UN, Duterte was also angered by criticisms of his policies and opinions by foreign governments.

During the campaign, an enraged Duterte, then a presidential candidate, dared to cut ties with Australia and the US after their envoys criticized his joke about wanting to rape an Australian missionary who was gangraped and killed by prisoners in Davao in 1989. —NB, GMA News