Duterte meets ‘hero’ Putin
PHILIPINE President Rodrigo Duterte met the man he calls his hero, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and unburdened his gripes about US “hypocrisy”, “bullying” and foreign wars.
Mr Duterte, who has expressed his admiration for the Russian leader, said the Cold War had stood between their two countries as the Philippines, a former US colony, was historically identified with the West.
But that has changed now that he is president.
Since taking office in June, the foulmouthed Mr Duterte has upended the Philippines’ historical military alliance with the United States, repeatedly saying he was shifting toward China and Russia as he embarks on an independent foreign policy.
“It was good [while] it lasted,” Mr Duterte told Mr Putin of what he has called his “separation” from the United States.
“Of late, I see a lot of these Western nations bullying small nations. And not only that, they are into so much hypocrisy,” he said during their 45-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in the Peruvian capital Lima.
“And they seem to start a war but are afraid to go to war. That is what is wrong with America. They’ve been waging wars in so many places – in Vietnam, in Afghanistan and in Iraq for one single reason that there was a weapon of mass destruction when there was none.”
Mr Duterte also said the United States “forced” the Philippines to contribute soldiers in its wars in Vietnam and Iraq.
When Manila pulled out noncombat troops that were part of the US-led coalition against Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2004 following threats to behead a kidnapped Filipino worker there, Washington “made it hard for us”, Mr Duterte told Mr Putin in a video shot by the Philippine presidential palace broadcast team.
“These are the things I see which is not a good idea,” Mr Duterte said.
He also said the Philippines longed to be part of Europe.
“We’ve been longing to be part also of – despite the distance – we have been longing to be part of Europe, especially in commerce and trade around the world.”
Mr Duterte, who has cultivated an image as a no-nonsense leader, said last month that “my favourite hero is Putin”.
He has also said that he and Mr Putin seem to share a passion for guns and women. –
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (centre) arrives at a hotel to attend a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in Lima on November 19.