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Sunday, September 25, 2016, 13:25

World told to keep away from Duterte drugs war

By Reuters

World told to keep away from Duterte drugs war
Perfecto Yasay of the Philippines addresses the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept 24, 2016. (Kena Betancur / AFP)
UNITED NATIONS – Philippines Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay told the United Nations on Saturday his country's new president, Rodrigo Duterte, had an "unprecedented" mandate and the world should not interfere in his crackdown on crime.

Addressing the annual UN General Assembly, Yasay said the Duterte government was "determined to free the Philippines from corrupt and other stagnating practices, including the manufacture, distribution and use of illicit drugs.

"Our actions, however, have grabbed both the national headlines and international attention for all the wrong reasons," he said.

"We urge everyone to allow us to deal with our domestic challenges in order to achieve our national goals without undue interference."

Duterte won a landslide election victory on May 9 after vowing to wipe out drugs and crime. Police said this week that in the past 11 weeks, nearly 3,000 people had been killed in Duterte's war on drugs, a figure adjusted from the 3,800 they cited last week.

The killings have drawn widespread international criticism, including from the United Nations, drawing angry responses from

On Thursday, the Philippine leader hurled insults at UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the European Union, then invited them to come to investigate his crackdown.

Yasay said Duterte had won "an unprecedented and resounding electoral mandate" and now enjoyed a 92 percent approval rating. As such, he had to deliver on a "sacred" call for change.

"To him, this trust is sacrosanct," Yasay said. "It cannot be breached, under no circumstance must it be compromised."

Duterte's defiance of high-profile organizations and his insults of anyone from US President Barack Obama to the pope have amused many Filipinos, but worried foreign governments - not the least the US.

Some analysts predict Duterte will seek to diversify foreign relations beyond Washington, including by seeking better ties with China.

Yasay said core values enshrined in the Philippine constitution included the mandate "to pursue an independent foreign policy, to promote the national interest."

At the same time, he said Manila would remain "a responsible partner of the international community," committed to the rule of law.

In spite of Duterte's criticisms of the world body, Yasay said the UN had demonstrated "continuing resilience and relevance" and added in apparent reference to the US alliance:

"Our domestic concerns compel us to partner with like-minded countries in the areas of maritime security, counter-terrorism, disaster response, and transnational crime."

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