Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he would invite foreign critics to come and investigate him for a spate of killings in the anti-drug war that has become a hallmark of his time in office.
Duterte said he would ask his executive secretary to send an invitation to UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon. The United States and the European Parliament would also be asked to send their best lawyers and experts to the Philippines.
“I am inviting them to come here and investigate me,” he told soldiers and police officers during separate visits to their camps. “But this would not be a one-way affair.”
“They can ask all the questions they want, but after that, in keeping with the time-honoured principle of the right to be heard, I will also ask them questions,” he added.
Duterte has in the past lashed out at the UN, the US and the European Parliament for criticizing his government’s campaign against illegal drugs. The critics have slammed him for alleged human rights abuses. But Duterte says those critics themselves have policies that are in violation of the law.
In his latest tirade, Duterte accused the European Parliament of being hypocritical in attacking him for the killings in the anti-drug war, while blocking the entry of thousands of migrants into their countries.
“You pretend to be imbued with humanity, but now there are many migrants dying in your seas because you won’t let them in,” he said. “You have closed your borders and they are dying outside, of hunger.”
“And then you point an accusing finger at me because I kill criminals?” he added.
The anti-drug war has left at least 1,185 suspects dead in police operations dating from July 1 to September 21. Police have also recorded 1,651 deaths that are being investigated as of September 18.
Duterte stressed that there is no crime in the Philippines against threatening criminals, and also reiterated to police officers and soldiers that he will protect them from any legal challenges as long as they do their job.
“I will go to jail for you,” he told police officers. “Go ahead and kill them if your life is in danger. You have my support. Not a single soldier or police will to go to prison just because he was doing his duty.”