Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has advised Myanmar's leader Aung San Suu Kyi to completely ignore human rights groups, calling activists a "noisy bunch".
In his 18-month-long term in office, if any element could come to define Duterte's presidency, it would undoubtedly be his disregard for human rights activists' opinions. In fact, the Filipino leader has always faced incessant criticism over extrajudicial killings in his ongoing bloody drug war.
Taking a leaf out of his own book, the firebrand leader advised Suu Kyi – a pro-democratic Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has witnessed a barrage of criticism for the treatment of Rohingyas in her country since taking office – to simply ignore the views of rights groups.
Speaking at a business forum in India's capital New Delhi, Duterte said, "We were talking about our country, the interest of our country... and I said 'do not mind the human rights [activists]', they are just a noisy bunch actually."
Both Duterte and Suu Kyi were among several Asian leaders who were invited by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the country's Republic Day celebrations on Friday, 26 January.
"I pity her because she seems to be caught in the middle of being a Nobel Prize winner for peace and this, now the ruckus, she is heavily criticised," the Philippines president said in his speech.
While talking about the role of the UN in the last few decades, Duterte added, "It hasn't prevented any war, it hasn't prevented any massacre. And here, I'm trying to protect my country."
In the past, Suu Kyi has also said that the global community is being misled by exaggerated information put forth by human rights groups in the region.
As for Duterte's views on the Rohingya crisis, it is still unclear as to when exactly he had discussed it with Myanmar's state counsellor, who is the de facto leader of the country formerly known as Burma, and how she had responded.