In anticipation of the two leaders meeting next week, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte once again asserted he would not allow President Barack Obama to lecture him on human rights, citing the killing of unarmed black people in the United States and Hollywood’s allegedly pervasive cocaine problem.
Duterte, speaking to a church in his native Davao City Wednesday, asserted that Hollywood is a “crazy community” full of cocaine addicts, a problem President Obama should address before discussing human rights in the Philippines. Duterte noted that he was happy to speak with President Obama and prepared to challenge him: He will talk to me. What’s your problem? In your place, black people are being shot even if they are already lying down.”
Duterte’s statements were a response to what he called “threatening” remarks from the White House about the two leaders’ upcoming meeting.
On Wednesday, asked about President Duterte, White House press secretary Josh Earnest called him an “unorthodox” politician but assured reporters President Obama was “certainly not going to pull any punches” with Duterte about human rights concerns in the Philippines. The nation has a pervasive drug problem, particularly with abuses of methamphetamine (“shabu”). Duterte won this spring’s presidential election with a vow to eradicate drug traffickers and mercilessly pursue drug abusers, offering them either rehabilitation or death.
“Both countries benefit from effective cooperation on a variety of issues, including maritime security. But the President is certainly not going to pull any punches in raising well-documented and relevant concerns when it comes to human rights,” Earnest told reporters.
Duterte has previously stated that he is “ready to talk to” President Obama, however, even after making incendiary remarks against the American ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg. “[John Kerry] is okay, but I had an argument with their ambassador, that bakla [homosexual]. Son of a bitch, he really annoys me,” Duterte said of Goldberg last month, adding that he was a “pest.”
Duterte has expressed more enthusiasm about meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin next week. “Now that I look forward to,” he told reporters last week, because he and Putin have “similarities … when it comes to girls.”
Duterte has also rejected an invitation from United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to meet in person. While the presidential office claimed that Duterte’s schedule would not allow for the meeting, the rejection follows weeks of harsh criticism of the UN for expressing concern about Duterte’s drug war and its ensuing death toll.
Estimates suggest more than 2,000 people have been killed in drug-related police actions since Duterte took office in June. An excess of 600,000, most addicts with no ties to the drug trade other than being consumers, have surrendered to police, and Duterte has vowed to continue investing in the building of rehabilitation facilities to treat addiction.
Duterte claims that many of those killed were not killed by police, but shot in the middle of intra-gang battles. “They kill each other, better. Criminals kill criminals, that is not my worry. It is the extrajudicial killing of people getting rid of criminals by their own hands,” he said this week. He has repeatedly asserted that all those who insist on continuing the drug trade in the Philippines “will die” and has threatened both domestic and international traffickers, “Do not f*ck my country.”