Panelo slams New York Times for saying Duterte ‘must be stopped’

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo has criticized the US publication The New York Times for its ‘scathing’ remarks on President Rodrigo Duterte over the issue of extrajudicial killings.

Panelo described the editorial piece as “reckless, irresponsible, and baseless”, and it’s the NYT that should be stopped instead.

“The New York Times says this man must be stopped, referring to President Duterte, in reference to alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines,” said Panelo in a statement of Wednesday.

“The New York Times editorial must be stopped from its reckless, irresponsible and baseless editorial on President Duterte,” he added.

Panelo said there is no basis ‘in fact and in law’ on The New York Times’ latest attack against the Philippine leader.

“No findings have been made by any of the investigating body that conducted probe on the alleged extrajudicial killings, in fact, there is a finding by the Philippine Senate that the so-called extrajudicial killing  are not state-sponsored or state-initiated,” the official said.

Duterte must be stopped

In its April 25 opinion piece “Let the World Condemn Duterte”, NYT said the International Criminal Court (ICC) should promptly open a preliminary investigation into the killings as alleged in the complaint filed by Filipino lawyer Jude Josue Sabio, the legal counsel of self-confessed Davao Death Squad hitman Edgar Matobato.

“There are reasons why the I.C.C. might be reluctant to go after Mr. Duterte. He is enormously popular with many Filipinos, for whom narcotics are a major scourge,” the editorial read.

The newspaper further wrote there is enough evidence that merits a preliminary investigation which could send an ‘unmistakable signal’ to Duterte that he may eventually have to answer for his crimes.

“And if the findings of Mr. Sabio, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and politicians, or the confessions of the former death squad members, are not enough evidence, there are Mr. Duterte’s savage words,” the NYT said.

“This is a man who must be stopped,” it added.