MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday appealed to Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin to rein in his country's military forces.
In a taped press briefing, Duterte alleged that, since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine three months ago, civilians have been slaughtered.
"Tayo nasasaktan na dahil nakikita pati sibilyan, anak ng ... Pati mga bata. 'Yung kanyon mo 'wag mo itutok sa residential (area). 'Yung embassy ng Russia, kung nakikinig, I'm not picking a quarrel with anbody. I said Putin is a friend of mine," he said.
Duterte said it was Moscow's "moral obligation" to see to it that civilians, especially the children, elderly and women, in Ukraine will be spared.
"Di sila marunong magtago, nandiyan lang sa bahay nila, maybe just lock the door and pray to God that it will passing episode sa buhay nila. E, namamatay e," he said, noting reports of mass graves of Ukrainian civilians.
Duterte echoed international pleas that Russian forces give ordinary Ukrainian citizens safe passage.
"Give them (citizens) a warning to vacate the place where they are so that they can go to safer grounds. Hindi lang 'yung tira ka ng tira diyan, mahirap 'yan," he said.
Duterte again compared his controversial violent drug war with Putin's invasion against Ukraine.
"Pinapatay ko kriminal. Hindi ako pumapatay ng bata o matanda," the outgoing President said.
Duterte clarified, however, that he was not condemning Putin's actions.
"I'm just sharing my sentiment which is also the sentiment of every human being na nandito sa kwartong ito," he said.
Last month, International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan said Ukraine was a "crime scene" after he visited the Ukrainian town of Bucha. Hundreds of civilian killings blamed on Russian forces, who occupied the locality for several weeks, were discovered in the area.
Since the Ukraine-Russian war began on Feb. 24, more than 4,300 civilians in Ukraine have been killed or wounder, and over 6 million people displaced from their homes.
The ICC, which investigates and tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the global community, is also looking into alleged crimes against humanity in Duterte's bloody war on drugs.
It has suspended its investigation into Duterte's controversial anti-narcotics operations as part of due process following the Philippine government's deferral request.