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UN chief digs at Duterte

VIENTIANE, Laos – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon took a veiled dig at President Duterte as he called on all countries to approach the drug problem in a comprehensive and balanced manner.

In his remarks at the 11th East Asia Summit held here this week, the UN Secretary-General reiterated his deep concerns about the extrajudicial killings of suspected sellers and drug users, which are contrary to human rights law and the international drug conventions.

According to Ban, the high-level debate at April’s United Nations General Assembly Special Session shaped comprehensive, rights-based approaches to this problem, founded on the international drug control conventions.

He pointed out that the outcome document, adopted unanimously by UN member states, stressed a balance between criminal justice and law enforcement based on proportionality and the rule of law.

“It had a strong focus on prevention and the treatment of drug users,” said Ban. “This outcome document is consistent with the approach of the United Nations.”

A rift developed between Ban and Duterte after the former expressed serious concern over the Philippine leader’s apparent support of extrajudicial killings.

UN experts have also criticized the Philippines for a wave of extrajudicial executions and killings amid the President’s war on drugs, which was a key point of his electoral platform.

Duterte responded by calling the UN “silly” and even threatened to withdraw the Philippines from it, a statement that was later retracted by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

During the East Asia Summit, Ban also called for concerted efforts to prevent tensions over territorial or maritime claims from impinging on regional relations and stability.

According to the UN chief, they have consistently urged all parties to resolve their disputes in the South China Sea in a peaceful and amicable manner, through dialogue and in conformity with international law. (Roy C. Mabasa)