Duterte: Legal reasons behind order to ignore UN investigators

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President Rodrigo Duterte (file photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 10) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Saturday his previous order for police to ignore international investigators probing the drug war was based on “legal” reasons.

Speaking before military officers in Zamboanga, Duterte stressed it’s best to keep silent in such investigations, as what they say may incriminate them.

Nagalit sila kasi ang advice is [They got mad because my advice is], ‘Do not answer questions from them.’ And that is for a reason, legal. That is provided for in the Constitution itself,” Duterte said. “If you are investigating us, the rule sa criminal law is any statement or answer that you may give might incriminate you.”

He said this just days after United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) High Commissioner High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called out Duterte for his statement.

READ: UN rights head slams Duterte for ordering police to snub drug probe

Duterte had instructed police on March 2 not to answer human rights rapporteurs, saying they could "produce lies" out of their statements to cater to "the angle that they would like it to."

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

The Duterte administration has had rocky relations with the UN and other international groups as they scrutinize the administration’s drug war over supposed killings taking place in its operations.

But Duterte clarified Saturday his advice was for the police’s protection, and not a move to snub investigators.

He added, there would be no uniformity in the answers if each commander spoke and said different things.

“It's gonna be convoluted… Maraming butas makita eh. Eh kung mag shut-up ka lang. Sabihin mo na lang, ‘Si Duterte man. Eh siya man nag-utos,’” he said.

[Translation: It’s gonna be convulated… There will be a lot of holes, so just shut up. Tell them ‘Duterte ordered it.]

Duterte, who has consistently backed police and the military, reiterated he was a former trial lawyer for almost nine years and should know how to protect his men.

Hindi tayo nagpa-tigas-tigas [We’re not acting tough]. Only these guys do not know their law,” he said.

“I should know how to protect you. Kaya sinabi ko nga [That’s why I said], ‘Just obey my order within the legal bounds of the law and ako na ang bahala," Duterte added.

The administration's 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.