Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines, Perfecto Rivas Yasay gives a speech during a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 27, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. The United Nations Human Rights Council opens its main annual session, with the US taking its seat for the first time under President Donald Trump’s leadership. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI
The Philippine foreign minister told the UN rights council on Monday that Manila would “destroy criminals” in a defiant defence of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war.
“There can be no middle ground for the well-being of our people. We will not be kind,” Perfecto Yasay told the opening of the 47-member council’s main annual session in Geneva.
“We will not hesitate to destroy criminals who seek the wholesale destruction of our society,” he added.
More than 6,500 people have been killed in Duterte’s drug war, launched after he took office eight months ago.
Rights groups and the UN have sounded the alarm over the prospect that the state was serially perpetrating extra-judicial killings.
“It is lamentable that international observers, are more focused on the so-called human rights of criminals but have done nothing to help in eliminating the drug problem that has grown to pandemic proportions,” Yasay said.
Duterte’s highest profile critic at home, Senator Leila de Lima, was arrested last week on drug trafficking charges.
De Lima, a former human rights commissioner, has said she is innocent and her arrest was an act of revenge for her decade-long efforts to expose Duterte as the leader of death squads during his time as mayor of southern Davao city.
The UN rights office said it was “very concerned” about the arrest and was watching the situation “very closely.”