MALACAÑANG has formally asked the United Nations (UN) to look into the alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the country, but said it should also investigate the deaths of policemen in legitimate operations.
In a news conference, Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea had sent a formal invitation to UN special rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard, who earlier condemned the administration’s war on drugs.
“The Palace has sent the invitation to UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard and is awaiting her response,” Abella told reporters.
“In its invitation, the Palace also urged – and I think this is notable – the UN rapporteur to include in her investigation the killings of law enforcers by drug suspects so that she could obtain an accurate perspective of the drug problem in the country,” Abella added.
Earlier, Callamard and the UN special rapporteur on the right to health, Dainius Puras, slammed the Duterte administration for allegedly giving law enforcers and civilians the license to kill drug suspects.
“Directives of this nature are irresponsible in the extreme and amount to incitement to violence and killing, a crime crime under international law. It is effectively a license to kill,” Callamard said in a statement on August 18.
“Claims to fight illicit drug trade do not absolve the Government from its international legal obligations and do not shield State actors or others from responsibility for illegal killings,” Callamard stressed. “The State has a legally binding obligation to ensure the right to life and security of every person in the country, whether suspected of criminal offences or not.”
The UN officials’ statements prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to launch tirades against the UN, as well as his other critics, the United States and the European Union.
Duterte then publicly announced he would invite them to visit the Philippines to probe the spate of killings of alleged drug suspects.
Abella also said there would be a shift in the way Philippine National Police operatives treat drug suspects. Instead of Duterte’s earlier “shoot-to-kill” stance, suspects will be disabled, he said.
“Basically the shoot-to-kill thing was in defense of oneself. The President’s usual statement is that if you see that your life is under danger, then you are to defend yourself properly,” he added.
The President on Wednesday reiterated there was nothing illegal in threatening to kill criminals, as he belittled threats of him being charged at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague over the killings of hundreds of drug suspects.
In his speech during the 115th anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard, the President gave stinging words against human rights advocates threatening to file charges against him.
“You know, it’s about time that we change the rules here, human rights [advocates]threatening me with the international court from justice case. It’s stupid,” Duterte said.
He again lambasted the US, the UN and the EU for criticizing his war on drugs, calling them “idiots.”
“These idiots, they have never realized that I’m already the President. And if there’s an issue about human rights, since you are all members of the United Nations, you go here and ventilate the issue,” he said.
But the President reiterated that he would cross-examine human rights probers after they have completed their investigation.
“The only thing that I ask of you is to accord me the right to be heard and then, allow me some questions so that I would know that you are not keeping lies on me based on the report of the [press],” Duterte added.
Duterte has been accused of using vigilantes to kill criminals in his home city of Davao, where he served as mayor for over two decades.
Edgar Matobato, a confessed former member of the “Davao Death Squad,” told a Senate hearing on September 15 that he killed crime suspects and others on Duterte’s orders.
But the President denied ordering the killings, saying the deaths of suspected criminals were the handiwork of crime gangs and drug syndicates.