Outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte called on his “friend” Russian President Vladimir Putin to spare civilians from his military’s attacks in Ukraine.
In his pre-recorded address Monday night, Duterte expressed concern for the death of civilians and atrocities in war-torn Ukraine that made international headlines.
“I would ask Putin to hear me because President Putin is my friend,” he said.
“You are in control of everything. You started the ruckus there. Be stricter with your soldiers. They are out of control,” the President said, addressing his Russian counterpart.
Duterte said it was Moscow’s “moral obligation” to ensure that civilians — especially the children, elderly and women — won’t be caught in the crossfire between Russian and Ukrainian forces.
Putin, he said, could at the very least give civilians a “warning” to vacate their homes and transfer to “safer grounds” before Russian soldiers conduct operations.
“To the embassy of Russia, if you’re listening, I’m not picking a quarrel with anybody. Putin is a friend of mine,” said the Philippine leader.
He also clarified he was not condemning Putin but merely “sharing his sentiment,” adding that it was not the way to fight a war.
Duterte also rejected comparisons made between him and Putin, saying he was only killing criminals in his war on drugs and not innocent people.
“A lot of people are saying that Putin and I are the same because we kill people,” he said. “But I kill criminals. I do not kill children and the elderly. What is happening in Russia and America is different from what is happening here.”
Data from the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission recorded that over 7,000 civilians died and more than six million people were displaced since the beginning of Russia’s armed attack on 24 February.
International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan last month described Ukraine as a “crime scene” after he visited the town of Bucha. Hundreds of civilian killings blamed on Russian forces, who occupied the locality for several weeks, were discovered in the area.
The Hague-based court, which investigates and tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the global community, is also looking into alleged crimes against humanity in Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, in which over 6,000 drug suspects were killed in police operations, according to government data.
Concerned groups pegged the fatalities at 20,000, including those killed by vigilantes.