Philippine President to U.N.: Stop ‘Worrying About the Bones of Criminals Piling Up’

Rodrigo Duterte would rather leave the U.N. than put an end to extrajudicial killings.

This photo taken on July 23, 2016 shows Jennilyn Olayres grieving beside the dead body of her partner Michael Siaron who was shot by unidentified gunman and left with a cardboard sign with a message "I'm a pusher" along a street in Manila.
Hundreds of people have died since President Rodrigo Duterte won a landslide election in May, promising to rid society of drugs and crime in six months by killing tens of thousands of criminals. Police figures showed this week that 402 drug suspects had been killed a month into Duterte's presidency. This figure does not include those slain by suspected vigilantes. / AFP / NOEL CELIS / TO GO WITH Philippines-crime-drugs-rights,FOCUS by Noel Celis        (Photo credit should read )
This photo taken on July 23, 2016 shows Jennilyn Olayres grieving beside the dead body of her partner Michael Siaron who was shot by unidentified gunman and left with a cardboard sign with a message "I'm a pusher" along a street in Manila. Hundreds of people have died since President Rodrigo Duterte won a landslide election in May, promising to rid society of drugs and crime in six months by killing tens of thousands of criminals. Police figures showed this week that 402 drug suspects had been killed a month into Duterte's presidency. This figure does not include those slain by suspected vigilantes. / AFP / NOEL CELIS / TO GO WITH Philippines-crime-drugs-rights,FOCUS by Noel Celis (Photo credit should read )
This photo taken on July 23, 2016 shows Jennilyn Olayres grieving beside the dead body of her partner Michael Siaron who was shot by unidentified gunman and left with a cardboard sign with a message "I'm a pusher" along a street in Manila. Hundreds of people have died since President Rodrigo Duterte won a landslide election in May, promising to rid society of drugs and crime in six months by killing tens of thousands of criminals. Police figures showed this week that 402 drug suspects had been killed a month into Duterte's presidency. This figure does not include those slain by suspected vigilantes. / AFP / NOEL CELIS / TO GO WITH Philippines-crime-drugs-rights,FOCUS by Noel Celis (Photo credit should read )

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in July, vigilantes heeding his call for street-style executions have killed more than 1,000 suspected drug pushers -- that’s 300 more than have died at the hands of police.

The extrajudicial killings have alarmed human rights organizations, but apparently please Duterte, who sees vigilante justice as a key component of his plan to reduce his country’s drug epidemic.

At a news conference on Sunday, Duterte took his support for these vigilantes to a new level, threatening to leave the United Nations over criticism that his directives for the public to kill drug dealers amounted to “incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law."

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in July, vigilantes heeding his call for street-style executions have killed more than 1,000 suspected drug pushers — that’s 300 more than have died at the hands of police.

The extrajudicial killings have alarmed human rights organizations, but apparently please Duterte, who sees vigilante justice as a key component of his plan to reduce his country’s drug epidemic.

At a news conference on Sunday, Duterte took his support for these vigilantes to a new level, threatening to leave the United Nations over criticism that his directives for the public to kill drug dealers amounted to “incitement to violence and killing, a crime under international law.”

Duterte characterized the two U.N. human rights experts who called for an end to the extralegal killings last week as “very stupid,” and told the U.N. to stop “worrying about the bones of criminals piling up” and instead focus on fulfilling its mandate of preventing conflict and alleviating suffering around the world.

“I do not want to insult you. But maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations,” he said.

As for the repercussions of such a move, Duterte promised he doesn’t “give a shit.”                                   

He admonished the U.N. for not sending its human rights rapporteurs to him first before they came out against his policies in public.

“You do not just go out and give a shitting statement against a country,” he said.

The expletive-laced tirade would be shocking if Duterte hadn’t already built a reputation for vulgar speech more befitting a barroom brawler than career politician.

Earlier in the month, amid a dispute with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Duterte called the U.S. ambassador to his country the “gay son of a whore,” and later refused to apologize when confronted by the U.S. government.

Duterte’s refusal to walk back incendiary statements has left the job of damage control almost entirely up to subordinates.

At a press conference on Monday, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Junior reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to the U.N. and pleaded for sympathy.

The president wasn’t really serious about leaving the U.N., Yasay said, just “tired, disappointed, hungry.”

“We must give him leeway. He is also human.”

Photo credit: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images

Henry Johnson is a fellow at Foreign Policy. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in history and previously wrote for LobeLog. Twitter: @HenryJohnsoon

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