Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a National Heroes Day commemoration at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig city, Metro Manila in the Philippines. File photo/ Reuters
The Philippines on Saturday rejected a call for an independent United Nations probe into Manila’s alleged human rights violations, describing it as interference in the affairs of the Asian nation.
UN rights experts asked the UN Human Rights Council on Friday to look into the “staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders.”
President Rodrigo Duterte has overseen a narcotics crackdown in which police have killed more than 5,300 suspected drug dealers and users since he was elected three years ago.
Rights groups say the actual number of dead is at least three times higher.
“The latest call by 11 special rapporteurs of the United Nations for an international probe of the Philippines not only is intellectually challenged but an outrageous interference on Philippine sovereignty,” Duterte spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
He accused the UN experts of “peddling a biased and absolutely false recital of facts, adulterated with malicious imputations against the constituted authorities.”
Panelo also said: “Those who have spoken against the campaign on illegal drugs and human rights record of this president have been overwhelmingly rejected by the Filipino electorate.”
Last month’s midterm polls, held halfway into Duterte’s six-year term, saw his allies take control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The 11 UN experts, who are independent and do not speak for the United Nations, include the special rapporteur on summary or extrajudicial killings, Agnes Callamard.
Callamard earned Duterte’s ire when she called for a stop to the drug war killings in 2016.
Duterte’s drug war is his signature policy initiative and he defends it fiercely, especially from international critics and institutions which he says do not care about the Philippines.
Critics have alleged the crackdown amounts to a war on the poor that feeds an undercurrent of impunity and lawlessness in the country.
The head of a Philippine online news site, among media agencies deemed critical of President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested again on Friday, this time over an alleged investment violation.
President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte on Tuesday urged the Filipino people to draw inspiration from the country’s “brave forefathers” who defended the liberty and democracy that they are now enjoying.
China has rejected Philippine allegations that a Chinese fishing vessel abandoned 22 Filipinos after it sank their boat in the South China Sea, as pressure builds on President Rodrigo Duterte to take a tougher line.
Parts from the stricken plane, which was not carrying weapons and was flying from Belgium to a French base on a training mission, crashed into houses in the Morbihan region around the town of Pluvigner. No one on the ground was hurt.
"The pilot and the co-pilot were able to eject before the crash. They were both located and are alive," the office of the state representative for the region said in a statement.
"Pakistan fully supports the kingdom with all its capacities in confronting these sabotage acts," the state news agency cited him as saying during a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah.
Tunisia's ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali died in exile in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, days after a free presidential election in his homeland, his family lawyer said.