Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday objected to a United Nations human rights official’s criticism of the dismissal of the country’s chief justice, Reuters reported. The rights expert “can go to hell”, he said.
In May, the Supreme Court of Philippines had voted to remove Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on the grounds that she had failed an “integrity test”. She had voted against several proposals by Duterte, for which he had called her an “enemy”. He had also alleged there were violations in the way she was appointed.
Diego García-Sayán, the special UN rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said on Friday that Sereno’s exit sent a chilling message to other Supreme Court judges and members of the judiciary.
“The decision of the Supreme Court was issued two days after the president of the Philippines publicly threatened the Chief Justice by saying that she was his enemy and that she should be removed from her job or resign,” said García-Sayán.
On Saturday, Duterte said: “Tell him not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell.”
Duterte’s acrimonious history
Duterte has often been in the news for outspoken comments against global leaders. In 2017, he called the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein an “idiot” and a “joker”, and also threatened to set fire to the organisation’s headquarters in New York. Hussein had called for an investigation into the president’s claims that he had personally killed people when he was the mayor of Davao city.
In March, Hussein said that Duterte needed a psychiatric evaluation.
In February, human rights groups also criticised Duterte for reportedly ordering his troops to shoot female rebels in the genitals to leave them “useless”.
The president is also known for making comments that objectify women or normalise rape. In June 2017, he had joked about congratulating anyone who had the courage to rape the Miss Universe. In May 2017, he had told some soldiers that they could rape up to three women. In June 2016, he had wolf-whistled at a journalist on live TV. He had also described a woman who was raped and killed in 1989 as “beautiful”, and said that he should have been her first.