Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was not happy with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for raising concerns on human rights, saying he considers the foreign leader’s move as a “personal and official insult.”
In a news conference after the closing ceremony of the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings, Duterte was asked how he responded to Trudeau’s concern over the supposed human rights violations and summary killings being linked to his anti-illegal drugs campaign.
Claiming that foreigners were unaware of the situation on the ground, Duterte said he felt insulted whenever his drug war was criticized by people who “do not know exactly what is happening in this country.”
“I said I will not explain. It is a personal and official insult. That is why you hear me throwing down epithets, curses… and everything because it angers me,” the Philippine president told reporters on Tuesday, November 14.
Duterte further insisted that he is not obligated to answer questions on the situation of the country to non-Filipinos.
“You know, I was elected by the People of the Republic of the Philippines. I only answer to the people of the Republic of the Philippines. If you are a Filipino, even if you are a fisherman and you ask me that, I will explain to you patiently,” the president said.
He also encouraged other world leaders and organizations to not rely on “falsified” data on the drug war deaths being provided by the “opposition and communists.”
Earlier in the day, Trudeau said Duterte was “receptive” when he raised Canada’s concerns over “human rights, rule of law and extrajudicial killings” in the Philippines on the sidelines of a regional summit.
“We impressed upon him the need to respect the rule of law and, as always, offered Canada’s support and help as a friend to help move forward. This is the way we engage with the world, this is the way we always will,” the Prime Minister told reporters.
“The president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange,” he added.
Duterte’s so-called drug war has drawn criticisms from international groups and foreign governments over its alleged spate of killings and rights abuses. Organizations, such as Human Rights Watch (HRW), claimed that more than 7,000 individuals have been killed since the campaign was launched in July last year.
The Philippine National Police (PNP), however, set the figures to only around 3,900. Police claimed that drug suspects have been killed for putting up violent resistance, and that there has been no recorded extrajudicial killing under the Duterte administration.
EU chief ‘not interested’
During this week’s regional summit, ASEAN leaders also met with European Council President Donald Tusk.
In his opening remarks, Tusk emphasized that deepening ties between the two blocs were “based on common interests and shared values of democracy, human rights, and rule of law.”
According to Duterte, he used the ASEAN-EU meeting as an opportunity to discuss with Tusk the human rights issue concerning his drug war. But Duterte said the EU president was “not at all interested.”
“I think we were in the same group and I said, ‘Whatever happened to that precious phrase. It’s a Western thing. The right to be heard,’” the Filipino leader told reporters.
“I was the one who injected the topic. He was not at all interested. There were a lot of TV. The TV was working there… I inserted the matter of extrajudicial killing,” he added.