Duterte invites UN chief to probe killings in Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (above) has invited UN chief Ban Ki Moon to investigate allegations of widespread extrajudicial killings.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (above) has invited UN chief Ban Ki Moon to investigate allegations of widespread extrajudicial killings. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday (Sep 22) invited the United Nations' chief and international human rights experts to investigate allegations of widespread extrajudicial killings, but insisted they also face him in a public debate.

The acid-tongued Duterte had earlier used vulgar language to dismiss criticism from the two organisations and the United States of his bloody war on crime, which has claimed over 3,000 lives since he took office on June 30.

"I have invited the (United Nations human rights) rapporteur, (UN chief) Ban Ki Moon, the EU, their lawyers to come here and investigate me," Duterte said in a speech, adding the formal invitations would be sent soon.

"But... after they question me, I will question them, one by one in open forum... then you will all see how I will beat those devils."

The 71-year-old former city mayor won elections in a landslide in May after vowing to eradicate the illegal drug trade in six months, and promising that 100,000 criminals would be killed in the process.

Since getting elected, he has urged police and even civilians to kill drug pushers, and vowed to protect lawmen from prosecution. However he has also insisted that he has not encouraged anything illegal.

Last month, a UN human rights investigator asked to be allowed to visit the Philippines to look into the abuses but the Duterte government swiftly rebuffed her.

An angry Duterte then threatened to pull the Philippines out of the UN, but later said it was just a "joke." Duterte has made a series of controversial pronouncements only to retract them later, with his aides saying his remarks were "merely rhetoric" or "hyperbole".

Duterte has also branded US President Barack Obama a "son of a whore" and Ban a "fool" after both expressed concern over the killings.

This week Duterte added the European Union to his list of targets, after the European Parliament condemned "the current wave of extrajudicial executions" in his country.

Duterte on Thursday brushed aside a warning this week by Standard and Poor's not to expect a credit rating upgrade for his country for two years due to the uncertainty triggered by the killings and his public statements.

"I don't care about that," he said Thursday.

Also on Thursday, the Senate heard further testimony from a man who alleged he worked as a member of a "death squad" for Duterte when the president was mayor of the southern city of Davao.

The man had testified last week that Duterte personally murdered people and ordered 1,000 deaths.

Speaking for the first time about those allegations, Duterte dismissed them, saying previous investigations had not resulted in any charges against him.