Duterte challenges West to probe Philippines drugs war

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a gathering of businessmen in Manila, on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 14 October 2016

Duterte challenges West to probe Philippines drugs war

MANILA: Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte called US President Barack Obama, the European Union and United Nations “fools” on Thursday, and warned they would end up humiliated and outsmarted if they accepted an invitation to investigate his war on drugs.
Duterte said he was open to an outside probe by Obama, his Secretary of State John Kerry, the EU and the UN Commission on Human Rights into alleged extrajudicial killings, but on the condition that after he was questioned, he had the right to be heard.
“I’ll play with you. I’m very sure they cannot be brighter than me. I will ask five questions that will humiliate you,” Duterte said. “Watch out for that, it will be a spectacle.”
Duterte’s remarks came during a televised speech to hundreds of the country’s business elite, during which he said it was necessary to cleanse the streets of drug pushers and rescue the next generation of Filipinos from the scourge of narcotics.
Duterte, 71, won the hearts of millions of Filipinos with his outrageous, at times comical speeches and man-of-the-people style in the run-up to a May election. He won by a huge margin after campaigning almost entirely on promises to wipe out drugs and crime.
Nearly 2,300 people have died in the war on drugs since the campaign started on June 30, according to police, of which 1,566 were drug suspects killed in police operations.
Police had previously said there had been more then 3,600 deaths, but have since concluded that many of that number were homicides and murders unrelated to illegal narcotics.
Opinion polls for Duterte’s first 90 days in office suggest he remains popular, with a Pulse Asia survey on Wednesday showing he had the trust of 86 percent of 1,200 Filipinos surveyed.
Duterte said on Wednesday he had officially invited a United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions to investigate the drug killings.
Thursday speech was the latest among Duterte’s frequent and furious rebukes of international critics of his drugs war, after they expressed concern about the unusually high death toll and circumstances of the drugs killings.
“These fools think (they can do anything) because the Philippines is a small nation,” he said. “Maybe God gave you the money but we have the brains.”


Migrant surge overwhelms Greek islands

Updated 23 min 52 sec ago

Migrant surge overwhelms Greek islands

  • The number of people reaching Greeks islands in the eastern Aegean Sea is the highest since the EU reached a €6 billion agreement in 2016 to prevent migrants from leaving the coast of Turkey
  • The surge started before Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria, but there are concerns that it could grow much bigger

SKALA, Greece: Greece’s eastern islands are struggling to cope with a surge in arrivals of migrants and asylum-seekers that has undermined efforts to ease severe overcrowding at refugee camps.
The number of people reaching Lesbos, Samos and other Greeks islands in the eastern Aegean Sea is the highest since the European Union reached a 6 billion-euro agreement in 2016 to prevent migrants from leaving the coast of Turkey and heading to the EU.
The surge started before Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria, but there are concerns that it could grow much bigger. Since the offensive began last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to quell European criticism by warning that he could “open the gates” and send more than 3 million Syrian refugees to Europe.
Dinghies carrying migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere are reaching the islands despite enhanced coast guard patrolling in recent weeks supported by the Greek military.
This is exacerbating problems at crowded refugee camps. A deadly fire at the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos on Sept. 29 triggered riots at the site, which is at 400% capacity.
The Greek government promised to accelerate transfers to the mainland and expand the network of camps there. But those transfers have so far been outnumbered by new arrivals on the islands.
Human rights group Amnesty International has described Moria as “overcrowded and unsafe” and urged other European Union countries to help Greece settle asylum-seekers.
Authorities fear that if the arrival numbers remain high through October, a winter crisis will be difficult to avoid.
Greece’s new conservative government says it also plans to detain migrants without the right to request asylum and wants to resume deportations back to Turkey under terms detailed in the 2016 EU-Turkey deal.