Never one to shy away from controversy, or speak his mind about anything, Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has told UN human rights expert Diego Garcia-Sayan to “go to hell”, following the latter’s concern over the controversial expulsion of chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno last month.
Think Trump, but instead of using Twitter, Duterte says it, loud and proud.
Sereno, who is critical of the president, was unceremoniously removed from her position. This led to UN Special Rappoteur Garcia-Sayan to say that the ouster created a “climate of intimidation” and expressed unease that the circumstances around it could threaten judicial independence and democracy in the Philippines. The prickly president wasn’t going to let the comment stand.
Duterte’s hostility was plain to see, saying at a news conference “Tell him not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell.”
The irony of it is, Garcia-Sayan is Filipino too, and added that “For a rapporteur of the UN on independence of justice to keep silent when a chief justice in any country in the world, even in my country, would be dismissed in such a way is impossible, and it will be immoral to stay silent.”
Duterte didn’t stop there, saying that “He is not a special person and I do not recognise his rapporteur title.” Yes, hit him where it hurts, Mr President.
But even if you are a ‘special person’, it is no guarantee of immunity against the vitriolic diatribes of Duterte, who in 2016 called Barack Obama a “son of a whore” and warned him to stay away from his bloody war on drugs which has left thousands of people dead in the Philippines.