OUTGOING Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte has asked Filipinos to support and avoid criticizing his successor, whom he called a weak leader during the campaign.
“I am leaving, I will say nothing,” Mr. Duterte, 77, said at a taped briefing aired on state television on Monday night. “What I don’t want is, some will still be politicking and just plain criticizing the new administration. You do not do that. We have no room for politicking or actions that are divisive to the country.”
Mr. Duterte said the government of president-elect Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., needs the cooperation of all Filipinos.
“We must give it to him,” he said. “That is democracy, that is how we operate,” said the tough-talking leader, whose daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio will take her oath as vice-president this month.
Mr. Duterte likened criticism to efforts meant to destroy the government. “So the better policy is just to ignore them and that’s what we did,” he said. “We never bothered to even hear what they were uttering or complaining about.”
Mr. Duterte also used his parting message to pitch the continuation of his war on drugs that has killed thousands and his government’s anti-insurgency campaign, which Filipino lawyers said had led to the arrest of activists and other dissenters.
Political analysts have said a quiet retirement for Mr. Duterte, whose six-year term ends on June 30, is unlikely as his critics try to make him accountable for the deaths of thousands of Filipinos.
Reuters recently reported that the official death certificates of at least 15 drug war victims had been falsified to “show they died of natural causes.”
On Tuesday, Senator Leila M. de Lima, who was sent to jail after she launched a probe into extrajudicial killings involving Mr. Duterte and his former police chief, urged the Department of Justice to conduct a deeper and comprehensive investigation into the falsified death certificates.
Foreign and local analysts have said the international community would closely watch the moves of Mr. Marcos after he stayed mum on key issues during the campaign.
The human rights situation in the Philippines had worsened under the Duterte administration, according to a European Union (EU) report on human rights and democracy in 2017.
On Tuesday, Germany’s envoy to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel underscored the importance of human rights and the rule of law during her meeting with Mr. Marcos.
“I underlined the importance Germany attaches to rule of law and safeguarding human rights and assured him of our continued commitment in this regard,” Ms. Reiffenstuel told a news briefing after her courtesy call on Mr. Marcos.
More than 70,000 people were jailed, about 34,000 were tortured and more than 3,000 people died under the martial rule of Mr. Marcos’ late father, according to Amnesty International.
The European Parliament has consistently condemned extrajudicial killings and harassment of critics under the Duterte administration.
The European Commission last year said it was closely monitoring political developments in the Philippines after flagging “serious concerns” about the country’s human rights situation.
The European Parliament in 2020 asked the commission to start the process of withdrawing trade incentives from the Philippines after the government failed to improve the human rights situation.
More than 6,000 Philippine products enjoy zero-tariff entry to the European Union (EU) as long as the country complies with 27 core international conventions that include human and labor rights, environmental protection and good governance. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza