MALACAÑANG on Monday, March 12, believed President Rodrigo Duterte is not likely to fulfill his threat to feed United Nations (UN) experts to crocodiles as "there will be no occasion to push them."
"I don't think he's in a position to do it (throw UN envoys to crocodiles). Come on. They're not even being allowed to investigate. There will be no occasion to push them to crocodiles," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a press conference.
Roque said Duterte merely gave an "appropriate response" when he made the threat.
He said the President could not be blamed for his latest pronouncement, since UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein's previous remark that Duterte undergo "psychiatric evaluation" was insulting.
"It's an appropriate response to a remark that as I said, should have not been made by a sitting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights," he told a press conference. "The statement made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is being treated very seriously. It's being treated as a diplomatic affront. It's wholly unacceptable."
Roque came to Duterte's defense after the latter, in a speech delivered in Zamboanga City on March 10, threatened UN special rapporteurs who will conduct an investigation into his bloody war on drugs to "throw them to the crocodiles."
The President made the stern warning, as he also reiterated his order to the Philippine National Police (PNP) to remain silent, if they are asked about the supposed human rights violations linked to his anti-narcotics drive.
"This son of a b****, stupid chief of (UN Human Rights Council)..., they were irked because (my advice to the police is), 'Do not answer question[s] from them. And that is for a reason (that is) legal. That is provided for in the Constitution itself, our Constitution," Duterte said.
"So these stupid (members of the UN) will go here. Are there crocodiles here that eat people? Throw those b****** [there]," he added.
Roque stressed that the talks between UN secretary general Antonio Guterres and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano are still ongoing for the deployment of a special rapporteur to the Philippines.
"As I said, the communications [between Guterres and Cayetano] are ongoing. Let's see what happens," he said.
Prior to Zeid's advice to Duterte to undergo psychiatric examination, the UN human rights chief expressed dismay over the President's order to the PNP not to cooperate with the UN special rapporteur who will investigate the crackdown on illicit drugs trade in the Philippines.
Zeid also said he deplored the continued vilification of UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard and Duterte's order to Philippine soldiers to shoot female communist rebels in their genitals.
Asked if there is a possibility that Zeid's remark might prompt Duterte to thwart the UN's impending investigation, Roque said the Palace would just await the result of the communications between Guterres and Cayetano.
He also reiterated that for now, the Philippine government's stance is that the UN expert who will probe Duterte's drug war must be "impartial" and "neutral."
"It (Zeid's remark) did not come at an appropriate time," he said.
"[But] we have made our position clear on the matter of special rapporteurs. We welcome special rapporteurs, provided they be impartial, neutral and willing to investigate rather than those already having conclusions and wanting to justify them through an investigation." (SunStar Philippines)