Duterte tells Obama to go to hell, woos ri­vals

The Myanmar Times - - World -

FIRE­BRAND Philip­pine leader Ro­drigo Duterte told US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama to “go to hell”, as he threat­ened to end his na­tion’s decades-old al­liance with the United States in favour of China and Rus­sia.

The fresh tirade came as the Philippines and the United States launched an­nual war games that Mr Duterte had al­ready warned may be the last of his pres­i­dency, in re­sponse to US crit­i­cism of his deadly war on crime.

“I have lost my re­spect for Amer­ica,” Mr Duterte said as he com­plained at length in two speeches about calls by the United States, the United Na­tions and the Euro­pean Union to re­spect hu­man rights. “Mr Obama, you can go to hell.” Mr Duterte branded Amer­i­cans “hyp­ocrites” and warned there may come a time when he would com­pletely break the two na­tions’ al­liance, which in­cludes a mu­tual de­fence pact.

“Even­tu­ally I might, in my term, break up with Amer­ica. I would rather go to Rus­sia or to China. Even if we do not agree with their ide­ol­ogy, they have re­spect for the peo­ple. Re­spect is im­por­tant,” he said.

Mr Duterte, who took of­fice on June 30, has said the top pri­or­ity of his six-year term is erad­i­cat­ing il­le­gal drugs in so­ci­ety, and he is “happy to slaugh­ter” 3 mil­lion ad­dicts to achieve his goal.

More than 3000 peo­ple have died in the crime war so far with rights groups warn­ing of vig­i­lante death squads car­ry­ing out mass mur­der and a gen­eral break­down in the rule of law.

Mr Obama last month urged Mr Duterte at a re­gional sum­mit in Laos to re­spect the rule of law and carry out his drug war “the right way”.

A few days ear­lier, Mr Duterte had branded Mr Obama a “son of a whore” af­ter be­ing told the US pres­i­dent would raise the rights con­cerns at the sum­mit.

Mil­i­tary ties be­tween the Philippines and the United States had grown stronger in re­cent years partly in re­sponse to China’s expanding pres­ence in the strate­gi­cally vi­tal South China Sea.

On Oc­to­ber 4, Mr Duterte told Filipinos they could not count on the United States, the Philippines’ for­mer colo­nial ruler.

“Don’t be­lieve in those Amer­i­cans. They will not fight to die for us,” he told mil­i­tary of­fi­cers.

About 2000 Amer­i­can and Filipino troops are tak­ing part in the eight-day war games, which will be held partly in wa­ters near the dis­puted ar­eas of the South China Sea.

In speeches to launch the ex­er­cises in Manila, mil­i­tary chiefs from both sides ig­nored Mr Duterte’s threats, acting as if re­la­tions were nor­mal.

How­ever, a state­ment re­leased by the US em­bassy in Manila hinted at the ten­sions.

“We are con­cerned of course, but we will con­tinue to hon­our our al­liance com­mit­ments and we ex­pect the Philippines to do the same,” em­bassy spokesper­son Molly Koscina said.

Photo: AFP

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte (cen­tre) salutes with a raised fist to­gether with mil­i­tary of­fi­cers dur­ing a “talk to the troops” visit in Manila on Oc­to­ber 4.

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