Palace: Duterte to skip UN assembly to deal with Marawi crisis


Posted at Sep 15 2017 09:43 PM

MANILA— Malacañang on Friday said President Rodrigo Duterte will skip the United Nations (UN) General Assembly set later this month to attend to the ongoing crisis in Marawi City.

In a statement, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte has decided to lessen foreign travels to deal with the country’s issues.

"The President has stated that he would minimize foreign travels for now to attend to pressing domestic concerns, such as the rehabilitation of Marawi,” the statement read.

Fighting between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists have been raging for nearly four months in Marawi City, leaving at least 845 dead, most of them terrorists, and hundreds of thousands displaced.

The prolonged conflict has left much of the once bustling urban center ravaged, and the government has begun plans for its rehabilitation. 

Abella's announcement came shortly after a tense exchange between the world body and the administration over Duterte's drug war. 

On Tuesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein expressed concern over drug-related killings in the Philippines, saying the anti-drug campaign's “lack of respect for due process rights of all Filipinos is appalling."

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano hit back and said the commissioner’s remark “severely mischaracterized” the human rights situation in the Philippines.

"The Commissioner’s report would have been balanced and accurate had he considered the information that we provided, instead of just relying on uncorroborated information," Cayetano said in a statement.

Earlier, the President lashed out at UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions Agnes Callamard for opposing his campaign against illegal drugs.

"French? T*** i**, umuwi siya doon. (Son of a b****. She should just go home)," Duterte was quoted as saying in a news report.

Callamard has been critical of slays under Duterte's watch and had sought a visit to the country to investigate drug-related killings.

The administration last year invited Callamard, but she declined due to conditions it set, including a public debate with Duterte that she said would violate UN protocols.

She visited Manila in May to attend an academic conference on drug-related issues and grace the Commission on Human Rights' 30th anniversary celebration.