'I can not lie,' Philippine president says, confirming he killed people as mayor
- Author: Megan Austin Dec 20, 2016,
Dec 20, 2016, 0:38
President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday threatened to say "bye-bye America" and terminate a pact that allows USA troops to visit the Philippines, as he reacted with rage to what he thought was Washington's decision to scrap a major aid package over human rights concerns.
It also highlighted Duterte's recent fallout with the USA and plans to realign the Philippines towards China.
Long-running efforts by a United Nations rights rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, to probe the drug war hit another hurdle on Friday when she said she had rejected three conditions for her visit set by Duterte's government.
In the latest salvo in a dispute over the Filipino leader's deadly crackdown on drug use in his country, Duterte warned Americans, "prepare to leave the Philippines".
The US made the announcement through Molly Koscina, spokesperson for the embassy, on Thursday, where she was quoted by a New York Times report saying because of "significant concerns around the rule of law and civil liberties in the Philippines", the US withheld its aid to the country.
"We will intensify exchanges and coordinate on the best practices and the lessons learned to enhance our capacities to address terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization", Duterte said.
He added that the country can survive without the USA money.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said at the same news conference that Duterte's government does not condone extrajudicial killings or human rights violations.
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Duterte stressed that he has not ordered the police to act with impunity in his campaign against banned narcotics because law enforcers wouldn't act on illegal orders.
"It happened. I can not lie about it", he said in English. Maybe they would agitate, well you know, and I said, God says I am a President.
Duterte won the presidential election earlier this year largely based on his promise to aggressively target drug dealers and criminals. Just to show to the guys that if I can do it, why can't you.
Despite skepticism from some Philippine drug officials, China has recently expressed willingness to proactively cooperate with the Philippines on its war against illegal drugs, including the provision of joint technical expertise among other enforcement measures.
"When I tell you now that I killed, do not term them as suspects because all of them died while they were fighting government people", he said.
"I used to do it personally", Duterte said.
But Mr Duterte, who has had a hard relationship with President Barack Obama, said he would "reassess" when president-elect Donald Trump takes over.
The US has said it will work with the Philippine president to address any concerns after he threatened to terminate a pact that allows US troops to visit the Philippines.