(UPDATED) US-based publication The New York Times is calling on the international community to revoke Philippine trade privileges in a bid to hold President Rodrigo Duterte accountable for his alleged support of the killings under his war on drugs.
In an editorial piece titled "Accountability for Duterte," the publication recently alleged that the President "relishes his image as a defiant crusader, willing to encourage the slaughter of thousands in the name of saving his nation from the scourge of drugs."
Manila's trading partners, The New York Times said, should rebuke Duterte by mimicking the European Union's (EU) threat to hit his government "where it may hurt the most" -- its trade incentives.
"Outraged by Mr. Duterte's behavior, as well as his government's possible reinstatement of the death penalty and lowering the age for criminal prosecution to 9, the EU has proposed hitting his government where it may hurt the most by imposing tariffs on Philippine goods. Other democratic trading partners should do the same," the publication said.
The EU is currently reviewing whether the Philippines can still qualify for trade incentives that are pre-conditioned on compliance with international agreements, including those on human rights.
A monitoring team from the EU earlier arrived in the country for an assessment of the country’s trade perks under the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP+), which allows the Philippines to export to the EU without duties or with reduced tariffs.
RAPS VS PRESIDENT
At the same time, the editorial said the United Nations Human Rights Council should "initiate a thorough, independent investigation into the killings under Mr. Duterte's watch."
"The man [Duterte] is impervious to moral criticism, but he may not be immune forever from legal action," The New York Times said.
The publication noted that an impeachment case has been filed against Duterte over allegations of corruption, supposed murder and crimes against humanity in connection with his anti-drug crackdown.
Though there is little chance the complaint will prosper in a Congress dominated by the President's allies, exhausting domestic remedies could clear the way for jurisdiction by the International Criminal Court, the editorial said.
The paper, however, warned it is unlikely that Duterte will welcome prosecution, given his attitude toward his political enemies, including Senator Leila de Lima, whom the paper said was arrested on "spurious charges."
"Ms. de Lima, who is still in custody, should be released immediately, and all politically motivated charges against her dropped," the New York Times said.
Friday's editorial was not the first against Duterte and his drug war.
The New York Times published an editorial cartoon on Duterte's campaign in August, a special drug war report titled "They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals" last December, and a documentary over the weekend.
Malacañang has slammed the investigative pieces as a demolition job funded by some individuals, including politicians.
Duterte's spokespersons and the national police have also repeatedly denied condoning the murder of suspected criminals.