‘NO CREDIBILITY’ | Lagman scoffs at Duterte offer to host rights summit

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Reuters file photo of President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines — An opposition lawmaker scoffed at President Rodrigo Duterte’s offer to host a global summit on human rights, saying he did not the credibility to do so.

Albay Representative Edcel Lagman called Duterte’s plan “a mockery like the ogre presiding over a meeting of predators.”

“A gross violator of human rights in his deadly campaign against suspected drug users and peddlers has no credibility to convene a summit on human rights to include principally violator countries,” Lagman said.

Since becoming president in mid-2016, Duterte has presided over an aggressive “war on drugs” that critics say has claimed upwards of 13,000 lives so far and counting.

But Duterte has defended his anti-narcotics campaign, often with profanity-laden tirades against critics, while slamming other, mostly western, countries he says have worse human rights records than he does.

Announcing his proposal at a Thursday night press conference in Vietnam, where he attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, Duterte said: “We should have a summit only on human rights. But we should call all — not zero in on me.”

“Why single me out? There are so many violations of human rights, including in the United States,” he pointed out, adding the proposed summit should tackle not just recent violations but also those that occurred in the past. Early in his presidency, when he would bash the U.S. in retaliation for criticism from former President Barack Obama, Duterte would often invoke America’s “historical crimes” such as the 1906 Bud Dajo massacre in Sulu.

But Lagman said: “The fact that other countries also violate human rights is not a justification for the unabated transgression of human rights by the Duterte administration which has resulted in summary killings of thousands of victims.”

“It is fallacious reasoning for Duterte to accuse human rights groups and advocates of meddling in Philippine local affairs because the protection and promotion of human rights are global concerns as pronounced in international conventions and even domestic legislation,” the lawmaker said.

“There is no rhyme nor reason for the continuing perpetration of these extrajudicial killings which should be stopped immediately without any contrived summit or self-serving tirades against human rights crusaders,” he added.