Philippines' Duterte curses New York Times over drug criticism

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday called the New York Times an "asshole" and rejected fresh criticism of his deadly drug war as he began hosting Asian leaders ahead of a summit.

Duterte let loose with the crude insult two days after the major US newspaper wrote an editorial headlined: "Let the World Condemn Duterte", and which slammed the killings of thousands of Filipino drug suspects.

"New York Times, asshole," Duterte told reporters at Malacanang presidential palace minutes after receiving Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, the first of nine Southeast Asian leaders to arrive for two days of talks starting Friday.

Duterte, responding to a query about the editorial, also accused the newspaper of ignoring US military abuses around the world and said the paper should stop publishing.

The editorial came out after a Filipino lawyer this week formally asked the International Criminal Court to charge Duterte and 11 other Filipino officials with mass murder and crimes against humanity over the drug killings.

The New York Times called for the court to launch a preliminary investigation.

"(This) would send an unmistakable signal to Mr. Duterte that he may eventually have to answer for his crimes, and would encourage governments to take measures against him, such as imposing tariffs on Philippine goods," it said.

Duterte, 72, easily won elections last year after vowing to kill tens of thousands of criminals and stop what he said was the Philippines' descent into a narco-state.

The killings have been widely condemned in the West but many Filipinos back the drug war, believing it will help to solve crime and corruption.

- Human rights disdain -

Duterte, who denies the allegations of summary killings and insists police only kill in self defence, on Thursday dared the International Criminal Court to pursue the case.

"Go ahead with the trial and let us see," he said, as he repeated his disdain for human rights.

"You know human rights (campaigners), I am not a worker for human rights," said Duterte, who frequently uses foul language against his critics.

Duterte also renewed his verbal assault on two major Filipino media outlets that have been critical of his drug war.

He threatened to get Congress, which is dominated by his allies, to withhold a new franchise for ABS-CBN television network, which he accused of failing to air his paid advertisement during last year's election campaign.

He also accused the owners of the Philippine Daily Inquirer of corruption, alleging they had illegally acquired government property in Manila's financial district too cheaply.

After meeting with Duterte, Bolkiah voiced support for the drug war.

"We also share your country's concerns on the devastating effects of drugs upon society and I understand your personal resolve in combatting it," Bolkiah said.

"In this regard, we welcome close collaboration through the exchanges of expertise and best practices in this area."

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THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPANY