The Philippines’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement attempting to clarify President Rodrigo Duterte’s threat to leave the United Nations over criticism of his war on drug traffickers, explaining that Duterte was “tired” and “hungry” when he made the remark.
Perfecto Yasay, Jr., the nation’s top diplomat, told reporters on Monday that the Philippines was “committed to the UN despite our numerous frustrations,” and Duterte would not unilaterally withdraw the country from the global governing body.
“The president was tired, disappointed, hungry when he made the statement. We must give him leeway. He is also human,” Yasay asserted.
Yasay accused the media of “leading him with a lot of questions” during a press conference “in the wee hours of the morning… it was in this context that he made these statements.”
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Arbella also confirmed that Duterte did not have any real intention of leaving the UN, arguing that he was merely “reiterating national sovereignty and the fact that he did not welcome interventions or what he would consider meddling.”
“But you know the entire process of decoupling is not… is not to be taken lightly,” Arbella added.
Over the weekend, Duterte issued an extensive and, as usual, profanity-laden tirade against the United States, warning that the Philippines may “just have to decide to separate from the United Nations” over criticism of his support of extreme police actions against drug traffickers and violent drug offenders. “If you are that insulting, son of a bitch, we should just leave,” he said, “Take us out of your organization. You have done nothing anyway.”
Duterte accused the UN of being “inutile,” citing the now-famous photo of Syrian child Omran Daqneesh: “Look at the iconic boy that was taken out from the rubble and he was made to sit in the ambulance and we saw it. Why is it that United States is not doing anything?… Anybody in that stupid body complaining about the stench there of death?”
Duterte also criticized the United States for protests against police actions in black communities. “Why are you Americans killing the black people there, shooting them down when they are already on the ground?” he asked.
When media asked Duterte whether he was concerned that there may be negative repercussions to his statements, he replied, “what is… repercussions? I don’t give a shit to them [sic].”
While Duterte has made a name for himself for his negative comments against nearly all individuals and organizations that have criticized his approach to drug crime, he has been especially acrimonious towards the United States. Earlier this month, he referred to U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg as a bakla, a Tagalog insult meaning “homosexual,” lamenting of the official, “son of a bitch, he really annoys me.” Secretary of State John Kerry, Duterte allowed, was “okay.”
Duterte, who has been in office since June, won the nation’s presidential election on a law and order policy platform, vowing to eradicate the nation’s drug problem by targeting traffickers and opening rehabilitation facilities to eliminate traffickers’ client base.
Duterte has taken to naming individuals police have evidence are working to sell drugs in the country, particularly high-profile traffickers and those with government ties. Earlier this month, Duterte read publicly a list of 150 public officials believed to be involved in drug trafficking, including police officers, judges, and mayors. Many of those have surrendered to police, who Duterte has emboldened and encouraged to kill drug suspects if they do not immediately surrender.