Philippines’ President Rodrigo Duterte told his U.S. counterpart, President Barack Obama, to “go to hell” Tuesday, then ordered the European Union to “purgatory” because “hell is full already.”
Duterte, who had vowed as president-elect not to give any statements to the media, made the statements during his second public appearance on Tuesday. He insulted both President Obama and the EU as a response to the growing concern in the West that Duterte’s war on drugs is enabling extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses.
Duterte defended his war on drugs from criticism. “Although it may sound shit to you, it is my sacred duty to keep the integrity of this republic and the people healthy,” he said.
“Instead of helping us, the first to hit was the State Department. So you can go to hell, Mr Obama, you can go to hell,” he added. “EU, better choose purgatory. Hell is full already. Why should I be afraid of you?”
Duterte said he is not afraid of an arms sales ban from the West because he can look to Russia: “I’ll go to Russia,” he said. “They said, ‘Just come over and sign and everything will be delivered.'”
Reuters describes American officials as increasingly frustrated with Duterte, who took office in June, and are “doing [their] best to ignore Duterte’s rhetoric and not provide him with a pretext for more outbursts.” Duterte has referred to President Obama as a “son of a whore” and U.S. Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg as an “annoying … homosexual.” Concerning Secretary of State John Kerry, Duterte has said he is “okay.”
“In as much as our alliance with the Philippines is concerned, it’s very much solid and stable and secure and on track,” Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis said on Tuesday.
Duterte’s most recent insults come as the U.S. and Philippines begin their annual joint military exercises, and they follow a speech in which Duterte vowed to end these exercises and “make friends” with China and Russia instead. “I told [Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev] I’m about to cross the Rubicon between me and the United States at least for the six years,” he said in a speech in September, without elaborating.
Just as American officials say the bond between the two nations is strong, so, too, have Philippine military officials deviated from the belligerent tone their president has set. “With commitment from our marine forces, we have continuously kept our goal to sustain good relationship and cooperation thereby upgrading each other’s capabilities and competencies,” Philippine Marine Corps Commandant Maj. Gen. Andre Costales Jr. said in a keynote speech opening the joint exercises.
Duterte’s foreign secretary, Perfecto Yasay, has struggled to conduct diplomacy in light of Duterte’s multiple barrages against the United States. He insists these military exercises will not be the last, telling reporters of Duterte’s comments, “No, no, no, he did not say that at all.” Yasay has previously had to excuse Duterte’s inappropriate remarks by telling reporters that the president was “hungry” at the time.
Yasay went further than presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, who refused to answer press questions about Duterte’s latest attack on the U.S., calling the matter “beyond my paycheck.”
Duterte excused his own comments in a separate public event on Tuesday by arguing he was “not ready for the big league.” He added, shrugging, “I can only act like a mayor” and “I never aspired to be a statesman.”
In that event, a forum with local officials, Duterte went on to explain why he was single: “If I court someone, will they reciprocate my feelings? Nobody will, I’m old. I’m 71.” Apparently remarking on his own virility, he lamented, “People of our age only have the western train of the cowboys. … It does not work anymore.”
Getting back on track, Duterte asserted, “There is no law which says I cannot threaten criminals either as a mayor or president. If anyone disagrees, give me the provision or law.”
During the past weekend, Duterte apologized to the global Jewish community for comparing himself favorably to Adolf Hitler in a speech in which he said he would “happily slaughter” three million people.