Photo: Reuters/  Lean Daval Jr
Photo: Reuters/ Lean Daval Jr

Following the suspension of a controversial war on drugs Tuesday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte shed some light on his decision.

“This is better for the bleeding hearts and the media,” Duterte was quoted by US Today as saying on Thursday. “I hope I will satisfy you.

According to official police figures, the crackdown has resulted in around 3,900 deaths. Thousands more have been killed in vigilante campaigns and extra-judicial killings, rights groups say.

During his speech Duterte also threatened to expel European diplomats critical of the drug war.

“You think we are a bunch of morons here,” Duterte said. “Now the ambassadors of those countries listening now, tell me, because we can have the diplomatic channel cut tomorrow. You leave my country in 24 hours, all of you.”

The president retreated from those threats on Friday, reports the New York Times, through a spokesman who said a rights group has falsely portrayed itself as an EU mission. Duterte’s threats were in response not to diplomats but to the European liberal advocacy group Progressive Alliance, which said it was “extremely alarmed” over “gross human rights violations.”

“For so long as the president has tolerated these interferences, he has decided that these must stop,” the spokesman, Ernesto Abella, was quoted as saying. “if only to preserve the integrity and dignity of our state.”