Duterte to Suu Kyi: Don't mind human rights critics

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 26) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Friday he told embattled Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi not to pay attention to human rights critics.

Speaking in front of Indian businessmen, Duterte recounted his chat with Suu Kyi and the advice he supposedly gave Myanmar's state counsellor.

"You know, she has been complaining that -- this is -- 'we are talking about our country, the interest of our country, our own country.'" Duterte, said. "And I said, "Do not mind the human rights. They're just a noisy bunch actually.'"

Suu Kyi, who also attended the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -India Commemorative Summit on Thursday, is a democracy icon who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 "for her non-violent struggle for democracy and human rights".

However, she has since been criticized for her perceived silence on the army's crackdown on the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority fleeing the country's northern Rakhine state.

The United Nations has called the exodus of more than 600,000 people the "world's fastest-growing refugee crisis."

Duterte said he pitied Suu Kyi, who was "caught in the middle" of being a Nobel Peace Prize winner and criticism over her silence on the issue.

The President himself has also been at odds with human rights groups, and has slammed critics of his administration's bloody war on drugs.

UN 'has no purpose' at all

Duterte also took a jab at the United Nations (UN), which he lambasted for its "inutility."

He hit the United Nations for being unable to prevent any wars or massacres.

"You impose your values, you are very strong and at -- the United Nations has no purpose at all actually for mankind," he said.

The Duterte administration has had rocky relations with the UN and other organizations that have raised concerns over supposed killings in its anti-drug war. He claims they do not understand the gravity of the drug menace in the country.

READ: UN rights commissioner ‘gravely concerned’ over PH killings

Duterte said despite the criticism, he is only trying to protect the Philippines.

"Assuming it to be true, what am I supposed to do.. Allow my country to self-destruct?" he said.

Government data show the death toll of drug personalities who died in anti-drug operations stands at 3,967 as of November 2017. However, human rights groups claim it may be higher at around 13,000.

READ: Palace: Int'l court has no jurisdiction over PH

In 2017, the Philippines rejected over half of human rights recommendations from the UN. Most of the rejected recommendations included provisions on investigating alleged extrajudicial killings in the country.