FIREBRAND Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte told the country’s military that foreign critics of his government’s bloody war on drugs could be used as “human targets” for soldiers.
The foul-mouthed Duterte, who is known for his dark sense of humour, made the remark during a speech before soldiers just as an International People’s Tribunal in Belgium found him guilty of human rights violations.
Despite the verdict, Duterte said he would only “bow to the Filipino people”, according to ABS-CBN News.
“If I fell short, then as a Filipino, that is your right to criticize and even slam me if you want. I would never, never take it against you. These Caucasians, they go here to look for our faults,” Duterte said in a speech in Camp O’Donnel in Capas, Tarlac.
“I don’t even know what extrajudicial killing is. It’s not in the Revised Penal Code. Go ahead, one day if you run out of targets, and you want live fire and live human target, I will send three there, all of them white,” he said in jest.
Harry Roque, the Presidential spokesman had earlier said the public should not always take Duterte’s words seriously.
Duterte said he welcomed White House National Security Advisor John Bolton’s push to have him prosecuted at the International Criminal Court (ICC), which has received a slew of complaints over allged human rights abuses.
Late last month, activists and families of suspects slain in the war on drugs called for the leader’s indictment over thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings.
The 50-page petition is the second ICC complaint to be filed by families accusing Duterte of ordering police to carry out indiscriminate killings.
Among other allegations, the group claimed the police who acted on Duterte’s orders had committed “brazen” executions and acted with impunity in their campaign was being “persecuted”.
Since taking office in June 2016, Duterte has presided over a campaign to wipe out illegal drugs during which the government says it has “neutralised” – or killed – some 4,540 “drug lords” and arrested almost 50,000 people.
Human Rights Watch has claimed the real figure of those killed by police or plain-clothed assassins was more than 12,000 – most of whom are urban poor.