MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The brash-talking Philippine president criticized the United Nations on Wednesday for condemning the spate of killings of suspected drug criminals in his country while allegedly keeping silent on deadlier violence in the Middle East.
President Rodrigo Duterte chided the U.N. for being "easy to be swayed into interfering into the affairs of the republic" and "coming on a very stupid proposition." He was apparently referring to condemnations by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in June and the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime earlier this month of Duterte's "apparent endorsement of extrajudicial killings, which is illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms."
In a speech at the national police headquarters, Duterte said the deaths tallied in his anti-drug campaign include those who engaged in shootouts with police, as well as those killed by other drug criminals.
"For those who are killed by the other drug syndicate we can only investigate, but do not attribute the acts of other criminals upon my government," he said.
According to the national police count, as of last week, more than 500 have been killed in gunfights with police and nearly 8,000 have been arrested in the government anti-illegal drugs campaign. But local media and other groups have higher tallies, some nearly 1,000, and have included apparent victims of summary killings.
Duterte said he will not relent in the fight against drugs until the apparatus of drug traffickers is destroyed.
"Why would the United Nations be so easy to be swayed into interfering into the affairs of the republic?" he asked. "There are about just 1,000 (dead) and there are a lot of people — innocent women, children, young women, young men, old women being killed elsewhere in the world."
He said he has not heard the United Nations or the U.N. chief complaining publicly about the higher Middle East death tolls or criticizing "the countries who are into it and bombing villages and communities, killing everybody there including the goats and the cows and the dogs."
Duterte was not specific, but Ban has addressed a number of conflicts around the globe in recent days. The U.N. chief on Tuesday condemned a reported airstrike on a hospital in Yemen that killed at least 11 people. The same day, he launched an investigation into U.N. peacekeepers' alleged inaction during a violent rampage of troops in South Sudan. Over the weekend, Ban condemned an attack by suspected rebels that killed at least 36 people in northeastern Congo.
Duterte made an earlier profanity-laced tirade against the U.N. when he was president-elect in June after foreign and local media group criticized his comments that corrupt journalists were legitimate targets of assassination.