The Philippines plays down President Rodrigo Duterte’s threats to leave the United Nations while it reiterates the country’s “profound disappointment and frustration” with the world body.
The climbdown came a day after Dutertethreatened to withdraw the Philippines from the UN for criticizing his bloody war on crime, including on drug trafficking.
In a strongly worded news conference on Sunday, the president accused the UN of failing to fulfill its mandate and suggested China and others form a new global forum.
Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay, however, described the president’s comments as expressions of “profound disappointment and frustration,” saying the Philippines would remain a UN member.
“We are committed to the UN despite our numerous frustrations with this international agency,” he said.
Last week, the UN urged Manila to stop extra-judicial executions and killings that have escalated since Duterte won the presidency in May on a promise to wipe out drugs.
About 1,800 people have been killed in drug-related violence since he came to power, police said on Monday.
According to police chief Ronald Dela Rosa, 712 drug traffickers and users had been killed during police operations. Police were also investigating 1,067 drug-related killings outside normal police work, he added.
Yasay criticized UN rapporteurs for “jumping to an arbitrary conclusion that we have violated human rights of people,” saying their allegations were based on information from unnamed sources without proper substantiation.
President Duterte has denied the government, or police forces, were involved in the rising number of deaths among criminals.
Nicknamed by the media as “The Punisher,” Duterte was long-time mayor of the country’s most dangerous city, Davao City, where he largely eliminated criminal activities.
In his remarks on Sunday, the president launched an attack on the United Nations and its members – including Manila’s traditionally close ally, Washington – saying it could not fulfill its own mandate.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. (AFP photo)
Duterte criticized the UN for not doing enough to address hunger and terrorism, and for not being able to do anything about Syria and Iraq. He said he would invite China and African nations to form another global organization.
“You know, United Nations, if you can say one bad thing about me, I can give you 10 (about you). I tell you, you are an inutile. Because if you are really true to your mandate, you could have stopped all these wars and killing,” he said.
Reacting to US criticisms, Duterte cited the string of shootings involving police and black men that have sparked protests in the US.
“Why are you Americans killing the black people there, shooting them down when they are already on the ground?” he asked. “Answer that question, because even if it’s just one or two or three, it is still human rights violations.”