In a Thursday speech, Duterte said, "This is better for the bleeding hearts and the media. I hope I will satisfy you," USA Today reported.
The campaign — dubbed Operation Double Barrel — was implemented after Duterte took office last year, aimed at battling the widespread use of illegal drugs in the Philippines. According to official police figures, the operation has resulted in the deaths of some 4,000 people, many of whom are innocent according to multiple reports. Human rights organizations claim that those figures are low, and observe that over 8,000 people have lost their lives since the June 2016 beginning of the national violence.
The suspension of the campaign — which included Duterte's call for civilians to execute even those suspected of involvement in the manufacture, traffic, and use of illegal drugs — comes after brutal police killings of Filipino teenagers in August and September led to widespread outrage and protest. Evidence from the cases has revealed that law enforcement bolstered by Duterte's cheerleading tactics routinely abused their powers.
In a few weeks, the Philippines will host the regional ASEAN economic summit, which will be attended by world leaders including US President Donald Trump who praised the Philippine leader during an April phone call for "doing an unbelievable job on the drug problem."
On Monday, a delegation of European lawyers held a press conference in Manila to denounce the drug-related killings.
Perceiving the conference as a potential warning to remove the Phillipines from the United Nations, Duterte threatened to remove every European ambassador that criticized his drug war campaign.
"You think we are a bunch of morons here. 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," Duterte said in his Thursday speech.
This is the second time Duterte has halted his drug campaign. The leader temporarily suspended the atrocities in January when it was revealed that a South Korean businessman was brutally killed by anti-drug police.