MANILA - United Nations special rapporteur Agnes Callamard on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that his "only sin" was "extra-judicial killings" destroyed the rule of law in the Philippines.
Callamard, a staunch critic of the administration's drug war, described Duterte's statement as "extraordinary."
"Extraordinary statement by a Head of State (and we have had many this week at the UN): my 'only' sin is #EJK. Translation: my only sin is imposing unthinkable sufferings on 1000s of vulnerable families, emboldening corrupt policing, destroying rule of law," Callamard said in a tweet.
“Ako, I will talk to a political exercise now. What are your sins? Ako? Sabi ko nga sa military, ano kasalanan ko? Nagnakaw ba ako dyan ni piso? Did I prosecute na pinakulong ko? Ang kasalanan ko lang, yung mga extra-judicial killings,” Duterte earlier said in a speech in Malacañang.
Duterte did not expound what he meant, which was said in the context of him slamming opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan for crafting a law that raised the age criminal responsibility.
Callamard has sought an invitation to visit the Philippines to investigate the human rights situation in the country amid the Duterte administration's bloody war on illegal drugs.
The Philippine government last year invited Callamard, but she declined due to conditions set by the government, including a public debate with Duterte, which she said would break UN protocol.
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay also called the attention of the International Criminal Court, where Duterte is facing complaints, over the President's statement Thursday.
"Here's the President of the Republic of the Philippines, making a public admission of crimes under your jurisdiction. Please act ASAP," Hilbay said in a tweet.
Lawyer Edwin Lacierda, former spokesperson of then President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, said Duterte's statement is an example of a confession.
"An acquaintance who practices international human rights abroad once remarked to me that PH is the only country where the president & his ministers practically admit to killings. To him, it makes the work of the ICC easier. This is one such confession," he said.
The Palace has yet to clarify Duterte's statement but his spokesman Harry Roque earlier said the public should not take his word literally.