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Some joke

By: Editorial August 31,2016 - 09:38 PM


To be exact, President Rodrigo Duterte didn’t say outright that the country was leaving the United Nations (UN) immediately or in the near future.

He was said to have been ticked off by an American reporter who asked about what his administration is doing about the extrajudicial killings at a time when he explained why he targeted Sen. Leila De Lima for an exposé on the illegal drugs trade in the National Bilibid Prison.

It was a 2 a.m. press conference, and the President was understandably tired — yes, those not used to his personal style can question why he holds press conferences during ungodly hours — so his outburst was to be expected.

Yet the provocation stemmed from the reported acceptance of a Palace official’s suggestion by United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamar to see for herself how the government is dealing with the drug-related killings.

President Rodrigo Duterte posed his threat for the country to leave the UN in a question — “Maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations?” — similar to what he did with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno when he asked her, “You want me to declare martial law?” after she told judges linked to the drug trade not to respond to police questioning without a warrant.

When he told reporters afterward that the threat to leave the UN was a “joke,” not a few people were confused and began to question whether the President was taking international relations seriously enough to weigh his statements carefully before lashing out.

First it was the Pope, then the slain Australian missionary, and, now, the United Nations. What’s worse was that Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay blamed the media for provoking the President to make that statement right after his talk to the nation on state TV.

Then again, the President could have been less tired and in a better mood had he chosen to talk before the country at an earlier time before his 2 a.m. “talkathon” or semiaddress to the nation.

But the President said what he said, and it’s not like we can expect yet another apology from him after Sereno. Yet Mr. Duterte and his subalterns must realize by now that anything he said after the outburst at the UN may not be taken seriously unless he backs it up.

And he cannot seriously expect the UN or rights groups to stop probing into or speaking out against the drug-related killings, either extrajudicial or the result of drug suspects resisting arrest.

But the President’s too stubborn and dead set on achieving what he considers to be a semblance of a peaceful Philippines within the next six months.

Martial law or not, withdrawing from the UN or not, what he says may not be taken lightly. If he says it is, we’re not laughing.

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TAGS: Bilibid, De Lima, drugs, Duterte, extrajudicial killings, illegal drug trade, illegal drugs, Leila De Lima, National Bilibid Prison, Pope, President Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte, Rodrigo Duterte, UN, United Nations

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