Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte due to depart Auckland

Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a banquet lunch be delivered to his Auckland hotel ahead of his expected departure later today.
Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a banquet lunch be delivered to his Auckland hotel ahead of his expected departure later today.

Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a banquet lunch be delivered to his Auckland hotel ahead of his expected departure later today.

The leader, nicknamed the Punisher because of his hardline stance on drugs that's led to the deaths of thousands of people in the South-East Asian archipelago, arrived in the city yesterday morning.

He's on a short-stopover before heading home, following the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru.

Yesterday evening, Duterte met with the foreign minister Murray McCully, but refused repeated requests for an interview with the Herald.

A spokesman for the presidential party said Duterte was here on a "private visit" therefore all requests for an interview were denied.

One Aucklander, of mixed Filipino-European descent, had heard the rumour last week that Duterte was destined for Downunder.

She said a large number of the Filipino community were excited at the news their nation's president had made a stopover in New Zealand.

However, her sentiments towards him tended to be at odds with the large number that supported him despite his dodgy reputation on the international stage.

She said many Filipinos lauded his tough-stance on the drug issue and saw him as a challenge to an establishment that had failed to fix the country of its many problems.

"While I understand the people are desperate for change and the Philippines has a huge problem with drugs, corruption and injustice, no part of me can concede that allowing for people to be killed without due process is okay."

She acknowledged due process in the Philippines was hampered somewhat by its imperfections.

But she thought rather than just issuing a kill order on all drug dealers the president should do more to address the underlying issues that are contributing to the drug problem; such as widespread poverty, impunity and the political elite who continue to have a big impact on aspects of life in the Philippines.

The Auckland woman also said there was also a risk that many innocent people were being caught up and killed in the President's war against drugs.

While Duterte was only in the city for a short time she said it would have been nice if he'd made a public appearance, instead of just wining and dining and small establishments in the city.

She said there was a large Filipino community in the city who regardless of their opinion of him, would have appreciated hearing what he had to say.

Nicknamed 'The Punisher' and 'Duterte Harry', Duterte took office on June 30 and has promised to kill more than 100,000 drug users and fill Manila Bay with their bodies.

He has urged citizens and the police to conduct extra-judicial killings of suspects, and has said in a televised debate he would kill his own children if they took drugs.

The bodies of dealers and addicts have since been turning up in cities across the Philippines. Police statistics show a surge in the number of drug suspects shot dead by security forces, but vigilantes appear to have killed significantly more.

The United Nations, the Roman Catholic Church, the European Union and the United States have condemned Duterte's policy as a violation of human rights.

Auckland Filipino community leader and former consul general Emilie Shi said despite the controversy Duterte is "highly popular".

"He is seen as someone who dares to be different in his position and policy, and as a president who is actually doing something for the country," Shi said.

Aucklanders on social media expressed their excitement at the news and aired hopes he'd make a public appearance.

"Welcome our President, where is he staying? Would love to have a glimpse of him," one said.

"Many here will like to meet him, but time does not permit as his trip this time is just an overnight one."

She said the alleged killings under his watch were "unsubstantiated".

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 06 Dec 2016 22:25:26 Processing Time: 42ms