Abella hits AI, says Duterte 'just a datu looking after common good'

Art Fuentes, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 22 2017 09:32 PM

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella on Wednesday hit back at Amnesty International (AI) for criticizing President Rodrigo Duterte's human rights record. 

In an interview on ANC, Abella said the human rights group did not look at what Duterte has accomplished over the nearly 8 months that he has been in power. 

"The organization is apparently ignoring the safety of the majority of Filipinos who appreciate the drop in crime against persons and property, the absence of addicts and open drug trade on the streets, the drop in graft and corruption, and the peace talks with rebels," said Abella. 

In a press conference today, Amnesty International Philippines said the more than 7,000 killings since Duterte's drug war began landed the country in the foreword of its "The State of the World's Human Rights" 2016 global report. The Philippines last earned this status during the martial law years.

The group also singled out President Duterte, along with U.S. President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as among several world leaders "wielding a toxic agenda that hounds scapegoats, and dehumanizes entire groups of people to win the support of voters who feel disenfranchised."

Abella, however, dismissed AI's criticism as "western sensibilities" incompatible with a "Malay leader."

"The more refined so-called sensibilities of western liberals are not exactly the language of a Malay, a Malay leader who's basically just a Datu, you know, who's just looking after the common good," Abella said. 

Abella also insisted that President Duterte is already toning down his statements, as shown by his recent invective-free speech at the Asian Development Bank.