Duterte threatens to expel EU diplomats over criticisms of drug war

Duterte signalled in a fiery speech that he would not tolerate European criticism of his drug war. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to expel European ambassadors within 24 hours, accusing their governments without citing evidence of plotting to have Manila expelled from the United Nations.

Duterte signalled in a fiery speech on Thursday (Oct 12) that he would not tolerate European criticism of his drug war, which has seen police kill at least 3,850 people since he took office 15 months ago and led rights groups to warn of a potential crime against humanity.

Duterte accused the European Union of interfering in the Philippines' domestic affairs, and alleged that it wanted to get the country removed from the UN.

"Just like that you tell us: 'You will be excluded in the UN'. Son of a whore go ahead," Duterte told reporters, adding that European nations were taking advantage of the Philippines being poor.

"You give us money then you start to orchestrate what things should be done and which should not happen in our country. You bullshit. We are past the colonisation stage. Don't fuck with us."

Duterte said he was prepared to kick European ambassadors out of the country if their governments tried to expel the Philippines.

"You think we are a bunch of morons here. You are the one. Now the ambassadors of those countries listening now, tell me, because we can have the diplomatic channel cut tomorrow. You leave my country in 24 hours, all, all of you."

The EU has made no public comments about wanting to remove the Philippines from the United Nations, and Duterte did not explain his reasons for suspecting they were.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella later said Duterte's comments were an "expression of outrage" to criticisms by a small group of European lawmakers and aides who held a press conference in Manila on Monday to condemn the drug war.

Abella said in a statement the group, from the Progressive Alliance and the Party of European Socialists, had "falsely portrayed" itself as an EU mission.

But Abella nevertheless insisted the group's condemnations justified Duterte's expulsion threat against the EU ambassadors.

"This delegation's irresponsible statements protesting the alleged killings under the Duterte Administration demean our status as a sovereign nation," Abella said.

"For so long has our president tolerated these undue interferences in our domestic affairs, and he has decided that these must stop if only to preserve the integrity and dignity of our State as a sovereign nation."

A statement released by EU delegation to the Philippines on Thursday night also said the group that came to Manila was not a European Union mission.

It emphasised the EU wanted to work with the Philippines at the UN, rather than expel it.

"The EU and the Philippines work constructively and productively together in a close partnership in many contexts and areas, including, of course, in the UN context," the statement said.

However the EU parliament issued a resolution last year expressing concern over the "extraordinarily high numbers killed during police operations" in the drug war.

It urged Duterte to "put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings".

Duterte won elections last year after vowing to eradicate the illegal drug trade in six months, and vowing that 100,000 people would be killed in the process.

Many Filipinos continue to support the crackdown but a survey last month showed the first major drop in Duterte's popularity.

Aside from the nearly 4,000 people police have confirmed killing in anti-drug operations, thousands of others have died in unexplained circumstances.

Rights groups say those deaths are partly due to police or gunmen-for-hire killing suspected addicts and traffickers as they follow Duterte's repeated calls for deaths.

Duterte said last year he would be "happy to slaughter" three million addicts.

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