Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte delivered an outrageous, hour-long speech to Philippine citizens in Vietnam Thursday in which he insulted President Obama, the EU, and “white people,” claimed to have threatened to “slap” a United Nations expert, and asserted that he had killed someone as a teenager.
Duterte is scheduled to meet President Donald Trump next week in Manila during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit there. Trump is also present at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting in Vietnam, where Duterte spoke, but the two are not scheduled to interact there.
In addition to his speech, the President of the Philippines threatened to ban two American Congressmen from the Philippines for suggesting his support for extrajudicial killings may have led to human rights violations. Duterte also proclaimed that he would like to host a global human rights summit in the Philippines.
He poke for nearly an hour before the Philippine community in Vietnam, a setting the regional outlet Rappler notes typically allows Duterte to be “more casual and prone to cracking jokes.”
It remains unclear whether Duterte’s remarks on homicide were in jest. During part of the speech, which he delivered in mixed English and Filipino, the Philippine president suggested that he was not afraid of going to prison. “Jail? Jeez. When I was a teenager, I was in and out of jail. One fight there, another here – at the age of 16, I killed someone. A person, really,” he alleged.
He then added that, if he was comfortable killing as a teenager, “even moreso as president. You fuck with my countrymen, I won’t let you off the hook. Never mind about the human rights advocates.”
Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque told CNN Philippines that Duterte was joking, “I think.”
“The President uses colorful language when with Pinoys overseas,” Roque added, referring to Philippine people.
“Past interviews with family members and family friends indicate that the teenage Duterte was indeed prone to picking fights and hanging out with a ‘tough’ crowd,” Rappler notes, suggesting the story may be true. CNN adds that Duterte told the story of “maybe” killing someone as a candidate for president in 2015.
In addition to proclaiming that he had killed someone personally, Duterte went on a racially-tinged tirade against both white and black people. “These white people, those from EU, the ignorant Americans, pretending to be, this Obama. You are so black and arrogant. [He] reprimanded me. Why do you reprimand me? I’m the president of a country,” Duterte protested, referring to the former American president and human rights advocates in the West.
He went on to argue that his bloody war on drugs, which has killed an estimated thousands since he took office in mid-2016, was necessary, and Trump declaring a state of emergency over America’s opiate crisis proved it. “Look at Trump. He declared a national emergency last week. We have a problem,” Duterte said. “When have you seen drug suspects surrender by their thousands? When I became president.”
Duterte called out on particular Western human rights critic, United Nations advocate Agnes Callamard. Callamard had protested that Duterte created a “climate of fear and insecurity, feeding impunity, and undermining the constitutional fabrics of the country.”
“If you investigate me, I will slap you,” he claimed he responded to her protests. “I will slap her in front of you. Why? Because you are insulting me.”
In an interview on Thursday, Duterte told reporters that he would want to host a “world summit on human rights.”
“You’ll see, it will all come out,” he told reporters, “And all the victims of human rights violation are invited to come and air their gripe or grievances.”
Rappler suggests the suggestions may be “sarcasm.”
Duterte is scheduled to meet personally with Trump on November 13 when they both arrive in Manila. Last month, Duterte promised to treat Trump “in the most righteous way” but later warned the leader of the free world to “lay off” human rights while in the Philippines.