Duterte minister scoffs at UN desire to investigate drug war in Philippines

The Philippines won't allow visits by the United Nations to investigate its bloody war on drugs, its foreign minister said on Wednesday, claiming human rights experts had already demonstrated prejudice.

UN Human Rights Council recently approved resolution to probe 'staggering' death toll

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., shown earlier this year, rejected the idea of an international team of investigators entering the Philippines to gather information on the country's pursuit of drug offenders. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

The Philippines won't allow visits by the United Nations to investigate its bloody war on drugs, its foreign minister said on Wednesday, calling its human rights experts "bastards" who had already demonstrated prejudice.

The United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution in July to compile a comprehensive report on President Rodrigo Duterte's three-year crackdown, during which at least 6,700 people have been killed in what police say were shootouts with dealers who resisted arrest.

Thousands of mostly urban poor drug users have also been killed, many in mysterious circumstances. Human rights groups accuse police of systematic coverups and summary executions of anyone associated with drugs. Police reject the allegations.

Asked in a television interview if UN investigators would be allowed to work in the Philippines, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said: "No. Because they have already prejudged.

"I already said those bastards — especially that woman acting like the queen in Alice in Wonderland — first, the judgment, then the trial. No."

Locsin was referring to Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. She has been a staunch critic of Duterte, who has threatened to slap her and has warned of an even bloodier campaign ahead.

"No – I don't want them coming here and then saying that everything they have been saying, but have not proved, is true 'because we saw it.' How? Are they going to exhume every body?" Locsin said.

"No. I'm not going to give them that chance."

The resolution came after a call from 11 UN experts concerned about a "staggering" amount of deaths during Duterte's signature campaign.

Locsin, a former journalist, on Wednesday called it a "nothing resolution" and "dead" arguing it had failed because the votes in favour were fewer than the combined number of abstentions and votes against it.

The foreign minister for the country heaped scorn on Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

Duterte's office has gone further, calling it "grotesquely one-sided, outrageously narrow and maliciously partisan."

The president, however, has yet to say he would agree to an independent probe on Philippines soil, should a request be made.

Duterte urges released felons to turn themselves in

Duterte swept to power, promising to wage a national war on corruption, drugs and crime, but his office has been embarrassed by recent revelations that some 1,700 felons serving life sentences have quietly walked free under a good behaviour program in the three years since he took office.

Among those freed are 745 convicted rapists, 748 murderers and 156 drug criminals, according to an internal prisons document, obtained by Reuters, that names all of the prisoners guilty of crimes categorized as "heinous."

Children watch as members of the a specialized police team stand guard during an anti-drug and criminality raid in Manila on April 13, 2018. Despite Duterte's tough talk, it has been revealed this month that hundreds of violent criminals were released early. (Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)

House minority leader Edcel Lagman called it a "massive jailbreak" that made a mockery of the administration's key law and order policy platform.

"This is really a serious indictment of any campaign against graft and corruption when people, who are now convicted of heinous crimes, are just being released without the knowledge of the public," Lagman told Reuters.

Duterte last week demanded that the 1,700 convicts surrender, offering bounties of one million pesos ($25,250 Cdn) for each if they failed to comply. As of Wednesday, 185 had done so.