Duterte to UN expert: 'Let's have a debate'

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte early Sunday, August 21, demanded a debate on alleged extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs in the country, with a United Nations expert on summary executions.

Duterte made the call during a news briefing that stretched from past 1 am to past 3 am on Sunday. He said he can even meet the UN expert in a third country if needed, for as long as their conference would be done in public.

"I'd like to talk to that alleged expert of the UN; I demand that he comes here. Or if he wants we can go to a third country. Let him talk to me and let him face me with hard facts. Not newspaper clippings….Let's have a debate," he said.

Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo had earlier dared UN rights experts to come to the Philippines so they can see for themselves that the government is not involved in extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs.

UN special rapporteur on summary executions Agnes Callamard responded to the call through her Twitter account, and later told Agence France-Presse, "I welcome the invitation from the government assuming this will enable unlimited engagement with the authorities and other key actors and stakeholders concerned with the recent wave of alleged extrajudicial executions."

Malacañang, however, later clarified that Callamard had misconstrued Panelo's challenge as an invitation, and that it viewed such an investigation as "objectional interference" in "household affairs."

Duterte said as much, pointing out that such an investigation would be "interference" in the Philippines' internal affairs.

The President said the UN expert should have observed proper protocol by first coursing the plan through the Department of Foreign Affairs.

UN exit?

Angered by this "interference," Duterte also contemplated "leaving" the United Nations, claiming the world body has not done anything for the Philippines.

"Maybe we'll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations....Take us out, you have not done anything. When were you here the last time? Never. Except to criticize. Food for the world? There's the world but there's no food. World hunger organization, maybe. When have you done a good deed to my country?" he said.

Duterte said the Philippines can even start its own international organization.

"Okay, we go out [of the UN]. And I would invite everybody, maybe China, the Africans. Why don't we just form another organization?" he said.

The President said the UN would have to first refund the Philippines all its contributions to the body. "You return the money to us and we'll go out," he said.

UN experts earlier criticized the Philippines' war on drugs, as well as the extrajudicial killings linked to Duterte's campaign.

Duterte himself slammed the United Nations, however, for criticizing his government's war on drugs, and reiterated this on Sunday.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said that as of August 18, more than 650 drug suspects have been killed in police operations pushed by Duterte to solve the drug crisis. The PNP is also investigating almost 900 other killings linked to the illegal drug trade. – with a report from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com