UN rights chief urges Philip­pines to probe pres­i­dent for mur­der

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The UN rights chief urged the Philip­pines yes­ter­day to in­ves­ti­gate Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte for mur­der, af­ter he boasted that he in the past had per­son­ally killed sus­pected crim­i­nals. Duterte said in a speech last week that when he was mayor of the south­ern city of Davao, where he served three terms be­tween 1988 and 2016, he per­son­ally killed peo­ple to set an ex­am­ple for po­lice. He made the com­ments in a speech to busi­ness­men as he dis­cussed his cam­paign to erad­i­cate il­le­gal drugs, which has seen po­lice and un­known as­sailants kill thou­sands of peo­ple since he be­came pres­i­dent on June 30.

“The Philip­pines ju­di­cial author­i­ties must demon­strate their com­mit­ment to up­hold­ing the rule of law and their in­de­pen­dence from the ex­ec­u­tive by launch­ing a mur­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hus­sein said in a state­ment. “The killings com­mit­ted by Mr Duterte, by his own ad­mis­sion, at a time when he was a mayor, clearly con­sti­tute mur­der,” he said. “It should be un­think­able for any func­tion­ing ju­di­cial sys­tem not to launch in­ves­tiga­tive and ju­di­cial pro­ceed­ings when some­one has openly ad­mit­ted be­ing a killer,” he in­sisted.

Duterte has said that as newly elected mayor of Davao, he and sev­eral lo­cal po­lice­men am­bushed a group of sus­pected kid­nap­pers shortly af­ter the gang col­lected ran­som from the par­ents of the re­leased hostage, a lo­cal teenage girl. “Maybe my bul­lets killed them, maybe not, but af­ter the (fire­fight) they were all dead,” he said. He mean­while told the BBC on Fri­day that he had per­son­ally killed “about three peo­ple” dur­ing his term as mayor.

Philip­pine Jus­tice Sec­re­tary Vi­tal­iano Aguirre in­sisted that the pres­i­dent had not vi­o­lated any law. “If the sus­pect fought back, he must have been forced to kill him,” Aguirre told re­porters last week. But Zeid was adamant, warn­ing that the acts clearly vi­o­lated the Philip­pine con­sti­tu­tion. “The killings de­scribed by Pres­i­dent Duterte also vi­o­late in­ter­na­tional law, in­clud­ing the right to life ... and in­no­cence un­til proven guilty,” he said. The UN rights chief’s state­ment also de­cried the “en­vi­ron­ment of alarm­ing im­punity and vi­o­lence” cre­ated by Duterte’s deadly cam­paign to erad­i­cate il­le­gal drugs. Ac­cord­ing to the UN, nearly 6,100 peo­ple had been killed since Duterte took of­fice in late June.

China of­fers guns for drug war

Mean­while, China has of­fered the Philip­pines guns and equip­ment worth $14 mil­lion to wage its war on drugs and com­bat ter­ror­ism, Manila’s de­fense min­is­ter said yes­ter­day, as ties im­prove un­der Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte. Beijing has pub­licly backed the con­tro­ver­sial cam­paign, which has left 5,300 peo­ple dead in less than six months and drawn crit­i­cism from the United Na­tions and the United States, Manila’s ally.

De­fence Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana said the lat­est of­fer came from Chi­nese am­bas­sador Zhao Jian­hua who met him and Duterte on Mon­day. “(The am­bas­sador) told the pres­i­dent: ‘I know your prob­lems in ter­ror­ism and in drugs so we would like to help you,’” Loren­zana told re­porters. The Chi­nese em­bassy did not im­me­di­ately re­ply to re­quests for com­ment.

Loren­zana said the Philip­pines might use the $14 mil­lion grant to ac­quire small arms, fast boats or night-vi­sion gog­gles, ad­ding the deal would be fi­nalised be­fore year-end. China also of­fered long-term soft loans worth $500 mil­lion which the Philip­pines would get next year to fight il­le­gal drugs and ter­ror­ism, Loren­zana added. Duterte, 71, launched an un­prece­dented anti-crime crack­down af­ter win­ning May elec­tions on a pledge to erad­i­cate drugs by killing tens of thou­sands of crim­i­nals.

De­spite their con­flict­ing ter­ri­to­rial claims in the South China Sea, Duterte has mean­while sought warmer re­la­tions with Beijing. He has re­peat­edly cred­ited China for of­fer­ing to sup­ply the Philip­pines with arms and aid un­der gen­er­ous terms. In con­trast, he has crit­i­cized a US de­ci­sion to de­fer ac­tion on hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars in pro­posed de­vel­op­ment aid, as well as to block the sale of ri­fles to Manila over hu­man rights con­cerns.

“I do not need your as­sis­tance,” Duterte said in a speech Mon­day with the US en­voy in at­ten­dance. “China is go­ing to re­lease to me 50 bil­lion. Go home, I do not need your aid,” he added with­out spec­i­fy­ing the cur­rency. Loren­zana said his aides would visit China next year to in­spect the weapons on of­fer. He added China was also spend­ing on a drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion cen­tre in the Philip­pines fol­low­ing the in­au­gu­ra­tion of a ma­jor fa­cil­ity in Oc­to­ber funded by a Chi­nese busi­ness­man. — Agen­cies

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