Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte defiantly reaffirmed his controversial campaign against illegal substances Tuesday and called for a redoubling of crime-fighting efforts across Southeast Asia as he prepared to face two prominent critics of his policy: President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“We shall not be cowed. We must press on,” he declared in a speech at a business and investment conference on the sidelines of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which he is attending. He called for increased use of intelligence gathering and more arrests.
Duterte also threatened earlier to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations over criticism of his crackdown on illegal substances that has led to a wave of extrajudicial killings. More than 2,000 people have been killed since June 30, when he took office after winning election on a promise to fight crime and corruption.
The summit has been overshadowed by Obama’s canceling of a meeting with Duterte after the latter warned him not to ask about the killings and used profane language when discussing Obama.
On Wednesday, Duterte is to attend a gala dinner with both Obama and Ban, as well as join a meeting that the two leaders will have with ASEAN heads of state and government.
Earlier Tuesday, Duterte expressed regret over his remarks about Obama.