Duterte tells police to ignore UN human rights probers of drug war

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2) — President Rodrigo Duterte gave one simple instruction to police officers if international human rights investigators talk to them about the war on drugs.

"Pagdating ng human rights o sino mang rapporteur diyan, ang order ko sa inyo: Do not answer. Do not bother," the President told police officers on Thursday at a police and military event in Davao City.

[Translation: Once those human rights investigators or rapporteurs come, my order to you is: Do not answer. Do not bother.]

"Why would we be answering?" he added. "Sino sila [Who are they]? And who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country? You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs."

Duterte warned that these people could "produce lies" out of officers' statements and "twist it forever to the angle that they would like it to."

The President's statement came after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Tuesday that the Philippines is open to having a United Nations (UN) expert look into the country's controversial anti-illegal drug campaign, as long as it is not UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard.

Read: Roque to recommend UN expert to probe drug war: 'Definitely not Callamard'

"There's at least one rapporteur that I will recommend be allowed to conduct an investigation but I can't divulge for one which rapporteur this is," Roque said.

Callamard — who is the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions — has frequently criticized the Duterte administration for the deaths in the drug war.

Read: Callamard calls for probe on all 'unlawful' deaths following Kian slay

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano told the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday that rapporteurs should avoid politicizing the issue.

Read: PH to UN council: Do not politicize, weaponize human rights

"All we ask for is fairness," Cayetano said. "There are 7.5 billion people in the world; send anyone except one who has already prejudged us, and who, by any measure, cannot be considered independent and more so, objective."

The drug war has been criticized by local and international human rights groups since it began in 2016, when Duterte took office.

While government data show around 4,000 drug suspects were killed in operations, the groups believe the number to be as high as 13,000 — including those killed in vigilante-style executions.

Related: War vs. poor: Police paid per drug killing - Amnesty International