Duterte 'insulted' with how world leaders raised human rights

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Updated to include input from political analysts Dennis Coronacion and Jay Batongbacal on November 15.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 14) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte slammed world leaders who criticize his drug war, saying he considers it an insult.

“I said I will not explain. It is a personal and official insult. That is why you hear my curses, nagmumura ako [I curse] because it angers me when you are a foreigner, you don’t know exactly what is happening to the country,” Duterte said in a press briefing, as the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit drew to a close Tuesday.

 

The President was responding to a question on how he responded to concerns of world leaders about the state of human rights in the country. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier said human rights, extrajudicial killings, and the rule of law were brought up during his meeting with Duterte.

His reaction differs from how Trudeau described their exchange. “The President was receptive to my comments. It was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange," Trudeau said during his press briefing.

Related: Canadian PM Trudeau brought up human rights issues with Duterte

Over the past year, some heads of state including Trudeau, former United States President Barack Obama, and international organizations such as the United Nations criticized or raised concerns over alleged extrajudicial killings and abuses from the police under Duterte's controversial anti-drug campaign. These have been met with tirades from Duterte, who claims they do not understand the country's dire situation with illegal drugs.

Trudeau was likely "playing to the Canadian audience" in his remarks, political analyst and University of Sto. Tomas political science department chairman Dennis Coronacion told CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday.

Another analyst, University of the Philippines' College of Law associate professor Jay Batongbacal, said that "the truth is somewhere in between" Duterte and Trudeau's conflicting statements.

"With respect to Justin Trudeau, Canadians from my experience have always been very polite. That might also be his polite way of describing the actual exchange," Batongbacal said on The Source. The professor was once a scholar of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, named after the 15th Prime Minister of Canada and the current prime minister's father.

However, the experts downplayed the impact of the verbal diasgreement between the two leaders, saying it would not affect relations between the two countries.

Batongbacal said "the stakes are not that high in terms of economic and political relations" between the Philippines and Canada.

"If it's an isolated statement... I don't think it's going to have a huge impact on the relations of the two countries," Coronacion added.

Duterte again said they should not pin the blame on all the policemen because it’s unfair.

“Maybe I would say there are some killings ‘extrajudicially,’ but I order their arrest and detention like what happened in Caloocan. You will be hearing more. Keep track of that record. Because in the end, you will know,” he said.

The case of 14-year-old Kian delos Santos, who was killed in Caloocan police operations, brought light to alleged police abuse after closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage showed the boy being dragged away by two civilians believed to be policemen.

But the President said not to use just any drug war data.

“Do not get your documents from the opposition and from the communists. They are all falsified,” he claimed.

Human rights groups believe the figures of drug-related killings since Duterte took office go as high as 13,000. But government data as of October 2017 claims there are only 3,967 deaths, adding that there are over 100,000 who surrendered.

Duterte has since transferred anti-illegal drug operations to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

CNN Philippines’ digital producer Eimor Santos and multi-platform writer Regine Cabato contributed to this report.