MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday lamented that it's hard to run a democratic government, saying constitutional safeguards against human rights abuses are sometimes being exploited by unscrupulous individuals.
“This is democracy and that is the reason we are pretty hard up. It is not easy to run a government that is democratic because of the so many rights of the citizens,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
“Iyang police power, power of eminent domain, and taxation --- those are the fundamentals. ‘Yun ang pinaka-core na power ng gobyerno. But there is a firewall also and that is the Bill of Rights - due process, right to be heard, lawyer during an investigation, and all of these things. And that is why we can hardly cope up.”
Duterte often slams human rights groups that criticize his war on drugs, where about 4,000 drug suspects have been killed in police operations, saying it is his duty to protect the country from the drug menace.
The chief executive has also promised policemen and soldiers protection if they get entangled in legal problems in the performance of their duty.
Duterte, a former prosecutor, said suspected criminals have made it hard for government to prosecute them because of the layers of protection granted by the Constitution, which was crafted following the fall of Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorial rule.
The President had earlier rejected being likened to the late strongman and insists that he has no plans of being a dictator.
Human rights groups have slammed the President for his statements that seem to embolden the police in carrying out abuses against civilians.
While the President has issued strong statements of support for police in the past, he has also criticized so-called “scalawag” cops for being involved in illegal activities such as drug trading and drug use.
In his speech, Duterte also advised law enforcers and state troops to ignore any human rights inquiry.
“Back up ko kayo. And pagdating ng human rights o sino mang rapporteur diyan, ang order ko sa inyo: Do not answer. Do not bother,” Duterte said.
“Why would we be answering? Bakit, sino sila? And who are you to interfere in the way I would run my country? You know very well that we are being swallowed by drugs.”
The International Criminal Court recently started its initial review into a communication filed by a Filipino lawyer alleging crimes against humanity in Duterte’s drug war.
The President is unfazed by the developments in the ICC, saying his drug war will continue until the end of his term in 2022.