Duterte gripes democracy, rights make governing difficult, orders troops to ignore probe on abuses

March 2, 2018 - 7:56 AM
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President Rodrigo Duterte at the National SWAT Challenge in Davao City (file photo)

MANILA, Philippines — Democracy and rights make it hard to govern the country, President Rodrigo Duterte griped Thursday, March 1, as he instructed state security forces not to answer questions from parties who might investigate human rights abuses during his watch.

“So this is democracy and that is the reason we are pretty hard up,” Duterte said at the opening of the National Special Weapons and Tactics Challenge in Davao City. “It is not easy to run a government that is democratic because of the so many rights of the citizens.”

He said the government’s “core powers” are made ip of “police power, eminent domain and taxation” but added that “there is a firewall also, and that is the Bill of Rights — due process, (the) right to be heard, (to a) lawyer during an investigation, and all of these things. And that is why we can hardly cope up.”

Despite these, he said, “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” and reiterated his pledge to protect security forces for deaths, “whether intended or unintended,” caused “in the performance of duty.”

He then went on to tell them “pagdating ng human rights (investigators) o sino mang rapporteur diyan, ang order ko sa inyo — Do not answer. Do not bother.”

During the recent 37th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, of which the Philippines is a member, the government was urged to cooperate with international efforts to investigate human rights abuss in the country, particularly the thousands of deaths attributed to Duterte’s war on drugs.

Before this, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court also said they would conduct a “preliminary examination” on the possibility the killings may constitute a crime against humanity.

But while defending its human rights record, the government maintained its refusal to invite U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard, who it accused of “bias.”

Duterte indicated he considers any such investigations interference in the country’s affairs.

“Why would we be answering — Bakit sino sila (Why, who are they)? And who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country? You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs,” he said.

He also claimed the outcome of any such probe was likely to be misrepresented by media and urged members of the armed services: “Do not talk to people who will produce lies out of your statements and who can twist it forever to the angle that they would like it to.”

“You’re investigating us, fact-finding, well sorry. Do not fuck with me,” he said. “Mahirap kasi, ‘pag palabas ‘yan, kita mo ‘yung mga newspaper, mga Rappler, iba itong speech ko ngayon. Bukas, iba ang presentation niyan (It’s hard because, when it comes out, look at the newspapers, Rappler, my speech now is different. Tomorrow, it will be presented differently).”