The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, has warned the European Union and United Nations that he could expel their ambassadors within 24 hours if they continue to “interfere” in his war against drugs.
Duterte said he had removed the police from the drug war and placed the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in charge instead.
“You think that we are a bunch of morons here… The ambassadors of those countries learn a lesson now. Because we can have the diplomatic channels cut tomorrow, you leave my country in 24 hours, all of you,” Duterte told the media in Manila in a mixture of English, Filipino and Spanish.
The outspoken president said he hoped a shift to target big drugs networks, adding that this would satisfy “bleeding hearts” in the west.
More than 12,500 have been killed since Duterte came to power last June with almost 4,000 slain during official police operations and many more by masked assassins or supposed vigilantes.
The archipelago’s police disbanded all 18 regional drugs units, said presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, adding that the aim was for the PDEA was to target “higher echelons of the syndicates, as well as their protectors in government”.
The administration said it would now target “big fish”, moving away from street-level operations to go after significant networks and suppliers.
He did not say if the policy shift was a result of international pressure.
Last month the UN Human Rights Council [UNHRC] in Geneva urged Manila to end the killings and allow an international probe into the killings. It was dismissed as a “politicised” move by the Duterte administration.
This week Human Rights Watch’s chief in Geneva, John Fisher, said the Philippines could be kicked out of the UNHRC and a mission of European parliamentarians from the Progressive Alliance told him publicly to “stop the killings”.
Duterte was clearly angered: “You are interfering in our affairs We are past the colonisation stage. Don’t f**k with us. You must have taken the Philippines for granted, saying that we could be excluded.”
The former Davao mayor acknowledged the death toll in PDEA’s operations was lower than those caused by the police and said rights groups and the media should be happy.
He said the west was “stealing our resources” and singled out the US, UK and France for creating Islamist terrorism by plundering West Asia.
“You built your riches, you were ahead in the industrial race of Planet Earth because you stole the greatest resource of the Arabs – oil,” the 72-year-old said.
“You colonised there, then started to divide the Middle East – the United States, UK, France, and that is why you are paying heavily now with terrorism. May you end up happy for what you have done.”
Rodrigo Duterte. Picture credit: Wikimedia