President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday praised his United States counterpart, Donald Trump, for reportedly wanting to copy his heavy-handed approach to curbing illegal drugs, which has earned international condemnation due to alleged state-sanctioned killings of suspected drug dealers and users.
"Tama ka talaga Trump. Bilib ako sayo. Nagsasabi ka ng totoo. Bakit kung lumaban ka hindi kita papatayin? 'Yun nga ang gusto ko eh. Mas gusto ko lumaban ka," Duterte said in a speech before policemen in Davao City.
Reports said Trump, who last October declared the US opioid crisis a national health emergency, wanted to extend the death penalty to drug dealers because they are as bad as serial killers.
The US leader was even quoted as saying by a senior administration official that Chinese and Filipinos do not have a drug problem because they only kill the drug traffickers.
"He often jokes about killing drug dealers... He’ll say, 'You know the Chinese and Filipinos don’t have a drug problem. They just kill them'," a senior administration official told US site Axios last week.
Trump had earlier congratulated Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
The rapport between Duterte and Trump is a notable shift from the Philippine leader's relationship with former US President Barack Obama, who, unlike his successor, had raised human rights complaints against Duterte.
Duterte has bristled at criticisms of his anti-illegal drugs policy, in which thousands have been killed since he took power on June 30, 2016.
His outbursts have been aimed at the United States, the United Nations, the European Union, the Commission on Human Rights, human rights groups and other international institutions, as well as local groups and individuals.
On Monday, Iceland called on the Philippines during the 37th regular session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland to allow, without preconditions, the UN special rapporteur to look into the drug war and cooperate with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to receive a mission by independent experts to conduct such an assessment without delay.
Duterte, in response, told policemen in Davao not to cooperate with any human rights probe.
"Pagdating ng human rights o sinumang rapporteur diyan, ang order ko sa inyo, do not answer, do not bother. Why would you be answering? Bakit sino sila? And who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country. You know very well that we're being swallowed by drugs," he said.
He also admitted that it is hard to run a democratic government.
"This is democracy and that is the reason we are pretty hard up. It is not easy to run a government that is democratic because of the so many rights of the citizens," Duterte said.
‘Yang police power, power of eminent domain, and taxation—those are the fundamentals. ‘Yun ang pinaka-core na power ng gobyerno. But there is a firewall also and that is the Bill of Rights—due process, right to be heard, lawyer, during an investigation, and all of these things. And that is why we can hardly cope up," he added.
"And that is the reason why if the terrorists say that they are determined and they would not hesitate to kill, then for the same reason, we will not hesitate and we will not be afraid to kill. Sigurado ‘yan."
Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court's Office of the Prosecutor said it would begin its preliminary examination of the extrajudicial killings associated with the government’s intensified anti-illegal drugs campaign, which kicked off on July 1, 2016.
Malacañang clarified that a preliminary examination does not equate to a formal preliminary investigation, but is merely a procedure conducted by the ICC to determine whether the case falls under its jurisdiction.
The Palace also said that the alleged deaths attributed to the administration’s campaign against illegal drugs were because of lawful police operations, thus these could not be regarded as attacks against civilians. — BM, GMA News