Human rights experts urged the United Nations (UN) last week to investigate police killings in the Philippines, as the country engages in a crackdown on drug trafficking.

"We have recorded a staggering number of unlawful deaths and police killings in the context of the so-called war on drugs, as well as killings of human rights defenders," a panel of 11 human rights experts said in a statement.  

Rodrigo Duterte, the President of the Philippines, called the inquiry "unpardonable intrusions" and said the UN experts were "foreign propagandists masquerading as human rights protectors," Reuters reported on Saturday. 

The Filipino Karapatan human rights organization has called on the Duterte government to allow the UN Human Rights Council to move forward with the investigation. "If the Duterte government has nothing to hide, it should be open and receptive to these forms of investigations, instead of being the foremost impediment to justice and accountability," Karapatan Secretary Cristina Palabay said on the organization's website. "It is high time for such a decisive action to be taken on the spiraling human rights situation in the country."  

Prior to being President, Duterte was the mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines for 22 years. Reuters reported that 1,400 people were killed in Davao during Duterte's drug war since 1998. Death squads would kill any person who was allegedly connected to the drug trade, without a trial.

During the 2016 election, Duterte sought to implement his strict ant-drug policies nationwide. Human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that Duterte's drug war has killed over 12,000 people by January 2018 and that Duterte loyalists have used violence to threaten human rights advocates.