Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte defended his “war on drugs” that killed thousands of suspected drug users and peddlers, saying those who implemented it “beyond bounds” would be held accountable.
The president made the remarks in a video address before the United Nations General Assembly this week, weeks after the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced it would probe possible crimes against humanity related to the Philippines’ anti-narcotics campaign.
“Those found to have acted beyond bounds during operations shall be made accountable before our laws,” said Duterte.
He said that he had already ordered a review of the conduct of the campaign, and the files of the suspected drug dealers were being looked at by the country’s Department of Justice.
The president has previously said that he will not submit himself to a foreign tribunal and that the Philippines will not cooperate in the ICC investigation into the “drug war.”
In his address before the UN, Duterte said “meaningful change, to be enduring, must come from within” and the imposition of one’s will over another “has never worked in the past.”
“We have recently finalized with the United Nations our Joint Program on Human Rights. This is a model for constructive engagement between a sovereign Member State and the United Nations,” said Duterte.
He told the world body that while “democracy and transparency are concerns that reverberate in the halls of the UN … ironically the Security Council, the pinnacle of your structure, violates every tenet of these values.”
“It is neither democratic nor transparent in its presentation and processes,” said Duterte.
In a statement, Human Rights Watch accused Duterte of trying to mislead the international community into believing his government was investigating unlawful killings.
Carlos Conde, senior Philippines Researcher at Human Rights Watch, said what the public had got instead was “more propaganda and stonewalling by the authorities.”
The latest Philippine government data released in June shows that as of the end of April 2021, at least 6,117 suspected drug dealers had been killed during police operations.
Human rights groups and activists have said the number could be as high as 30,000, and many people were summarily executed, including children. – with reports from Wire Agencies