Controversial Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte told a UN human rights official to ‘go to hell’ warning against any interference in the country's domestic affairs.
“Tell him not to interfere with the affairs of my country. He can go to hell,” Duterte said at a news conference late Saturday.
Duterte remarked that the country’s judicial independence was under threat of outside forces following the Supreme Court's dismissal of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who the president views as an “enemy.”
Last month, the court remove the justice for reportedly voting against government proposals. On Friday, special UN rapporteur, Diego García-Sayan, commented that the action of unseating Sereno sends a chilling message regarding the independence of other judges and lawyers.
“The use of such derogatory language... sends a clear message to all judges of the Philippines: in the so-called ‘war on drugs’, you’re either with me or against me,” Garcia-Sayan said.
Sereno, the first chief justice to be removed by her peers, had voted against several of the Duterte’s proposals including the extension of martial rule in the volatile southern Philippines.
The Filipino leader is known for defending the use of unpopular methods, such as extrajudicial killings, to achieve certain outcomes. Duterte previously dismissed comments from ex-U.S. President Barack Obama and UN special rapporteur Agnes Callamard for criticizing the Philippines bloody war on drugs.
Police say they have killed more than 4,200 drug suspects in the anti-narcotics campaign but rights groups believe the actual number is three times higher.
Several of Duterte's opponents have since been ousted, punished or threatened.
The president held the press conference prior to leaving for an official state visit to South Korea.