Philippine President-elect tells UN experts to ‘get some sleep’

Manila, June 8 (IANS) Philippine President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday told UN rapporteurs, who criticised his remarks justifying journalist killings in the country, to “get some sleep”.

“Go home and get some sleep. You are overworked and sound beat,” Duterte said in a statement issued on Wednesday through his spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

He denied having justified the killing of journalists in the country and said the statements of Cristof Heyns, the Special Rapporteur on summary executions, and UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression David Kaye were based on the “wrong premise”.

On Monday, Heyns and Kaye urged Duterte to stop making provocative speeches, after the leader said in a press conference, “Just because you’re a journalist, you are not exempted from assassination…”

“I never said that killing journalists is justified because they are involved in corruption. What I said is that you don’t have to be a journalist to be the subject of an assassination,” read the statement by Duterte, who will be sworn-in on June 30.

“My duty as President is to uphold and enforce the law, and I will pursue and prosecute these killers to the hilt in accordance with law, and I will be, as I have been, protective of the rights of journalists, and for that matter of any citizen, of the Republic,” he added.

Duterte has also been criticised by several international and Philippine organisations, who called his remarks on media killings “appalling” and urged the country’s media to boycott his press conferences.

Following the controversy surrounding his statements, Duterte, who claims his statements have been taken out of context, announced through his representatives that he will not hold any press conference for the time being, to avoid confusion.

He has also said he will not give any interviews during his term as the President.

Duterte, who won the election with 39 per cent of the votes, is known for his controversial statements.

–IANS

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