Philippine president declines to meet UN chief

Controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has turned down a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, after threatening to quit the body last month over criticism of his war on drugs.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte makes a "fist bump," his May presidential election campaign gesture, with soldiers during a visit to Camp Capinpin military camp in Tanay.

Known as the "punisher," the Philippines’ 16th President Rodrigo Duterte continues to raise eyebrows through his tactics after winning the elections in May.

The latest controversy surrounding Duterte concerns the United Nations. Specifically, he said he was unable to meet UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The UN chief had requested the bilateral meeting in Laos, which is hosting a summit of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders next week, but officials from Duterte's office said he could not fit it into his schedule.

An unnamed UN official said it was "basically unheard of" for a leader to be too busy to meet the secretary general.

During his presidential campaign he promised a war against crime, especially drug trafficking, and urged citizens to kill drug addicts.

But his drive against drug lords has raised human rights concerns as the UN and Western countries have criticised his way of handling the issue.

Here is a timeline of some notable comments made and actions taken by Duterte after he became president:

May 9: Duterte wins the presidential election and vows to kill thousands of criminals and dump their bodies in Manila Bay.

June 30: He takes office as the 16th president of the Philippines, announcing that he will bring back the death penalty, and orders officers to act upon a shoot-to-kill policy.

"If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful," he suggested.

Residents behind a police line looking on at dead bodies after a drug bust operation that turned into a gun fight in Manila.

July 1: The Philippine president urges communist rebels to take matters into their own hands, saying, "Drugs have reached the hinterlands... what if you use your kangaroo courts to kill them to speed up the solution to our problem."

July 5: Duterte starts an investigation against five top police officials.

July 14: Duterte’s office released a statement declaring the anti-drug campaign a "success," announcing that nearly 200 people were killed within a month.

July 16: "I will execute you.... I will finish you off," the president said during a meeting with a businessman he accused of being a top drug dealer in the country.

July 18: The former lawyer clearly stated that human rights do not concern him. "I am not afraid of human rights [concerns]. I will not allow my country to go to the dogs."

Human rights advocates along with church groups offer prayers and light candles as they call for justice for the numerous extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, which have increased in frequency since President Rodrigo Duterte took office.

July 24: Duterte signed a freedom of information order giving the public access to government records.

July 25: He vows there will be "no  mercy" during his plan to wipe out crime.

August 4: Michael Siaron, who was suspected of having ties to drug dealing, was shot and left bleeding on the street while his wife held his corpse. Next to him a note read "drug pusher."

Jennelyn Olaires, 26, cradles the body of her husband, who was killed on a street by a vigilante group.

August 6: Duterte vows to maintain the "shoot-to-kill" order. So far about 800 people have been killed since he took office in June.

August 7: The Philippine president names over 160 officials involved in the drug business and warns them to surrender.

August 8: In a statement he calls the US ambassador to the country Philip Goldberg "gay."

"As you know, I'm fighting with [US Secretary of State John Kerry's] ambassador. His gay ambassador, the son of a w****. He pissed me off," Duterte said.

August 21: Duterte threatens pulling the Philippines out of the United Nations after the world body criticises his methods of fighting crime.

"Maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations. If you are that disrespectful, son of a w****, then I will just leave you."

Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, however, said that Duterte’s statement was due to "disappointment and frustration."

September 1: Duterte turns down a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

TRTWorld and agencies