Bono: 'No compromise' on human rights in the Philippines

Manila (AFP) –


U2 frontman Bono said Tuesday there must be no compromise on human rights, in a rebuke of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ahead of the Irish rockers' first Manila concert.

The Philippine leader has waged a deadly war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives.

Overwhelmingly backed by Filipinos but condemned by critics who say it is a war crime, the killings by police as well as unknown suspects are the subject of a preliminary inquiry by the International Criminal Court prosecutor.

The rock icon, a longtime member of Amnesty International, a critic of Duterte's drug war, said human rights are "critical" which he takes "very seriously".

"I would just say you can't compromise on human rights and that's my soft message to the president," Bono said, when asked about his views on the Philippines' overall human rights situation in the country.

Duterte, elected in a landslide in 2016, told supporters on the stump to "forget the laws on human rights" as he vowed to kill 100,000 criminals and dump their bodies into Manila Bay to fatten the fish.

He has also told police he will have their backs, vowing to hand out presidential pardons should they be prosecuted and sent to jail while enforcing his crackdown.

Bono, in Manila for a U2 concert Wednesday, said he has no plans to see the Filipino leader, adding: "President Duterte is very popular. He doesn't need me on his side."

U2 are in Asia for their Joshua Tree Tour 2019 that will wrap up in the Indian city of Mumbai on Sunday.

Earlier stops included Brisbane, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth, as well as Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul.

Bono was not the first outspoken musician to speak out against Duterte's drug war.

In 2016, American singer James Taylor cancelled his planned Manila concert to protest extrajudicial killings in the country.

Duterte's drug war has killed over 5,500 alleged dealers and users who fought back during arrests, but watchdogs say the actual toll is at least four times higher.

International Criminal Court prosecutors have launched a preliminary probe of the killing, and the UN's top rights body voted in favour an in-depth review.