Obama, Duterte clash over brutal crime war

Agence France-Presse
Obama, Duterte clash over brutal crime war
President Rodrigo Duterte veers away from his prepared speech at the East Asia Summit attended by US President Barack Obama, and launches a tirade about US military killings in the Philippines when it was an American colony

VIENTIANE, Laos – A day after he regretted his “strong comments” against US President Barack Obama, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte launched another unexpected tirade against the United States that reportedly left a roomful of leaders and senior officials attending the East Asia Summit “quiet and shocked.”

Duterte made the comment as he veered away from his prepared speech before leaders of the 18-nation East Asia group, including Obama, on Friday, September 9, the last day of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related Summits.

Duterte launched into a tirade about US military killings in the Philippines when it was an American colony from 1898 to 1946, according to 3 diplomats the Agence France-Presse spoke with who were in the room.

“The Philippine president showed a picture of the killings of American soldiers in the past and the president said: ‘This is my ancestor they killed. Why now we are talking about human rights,” an Indonesian delegate said.

It was the same historical background that the Philippine leader had provided when he attacked Obama and the US at a news conference in Manila on Monday, before he left for Laos. (READ: Duterte: Who is Obama to ask me about human rights?)

The delegate described the atmosphere in the room as “quiet and shocked.”

Another diplomat described the speech as “normal Duterte.”

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr confirmed that Duterte showed the photos depicting human rights atrocities in Mindanao during his speech at the East Asia Summit.

‘Passionate speech’

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs described the Philippine leaders remarks as a “passionate speech” but made no mention of the reference to the US.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said, “In the passionate intervention of President Duterte, he underscored the need to take a long historical view of human rights, mindful of the atrocities against the ethnic people of Mindanao.”

In a news briefing after the East Asia Summit, Obama urged Duterte to conduct his crime war “the right way.” He was responding to questions on his  brief interaction with the Philippine leader the night before.

After warnings from Duterte that he would not be lectured on his crime war – which is seeing police and shadowy assassins kill an average of 44 people a day – Obama urged the Philippine leader to respect the rule of law.

“As despicable as these (crime) networks may be and as much damage as they do, it is important from our perspective to make sure that we do it the right way,” Obama told reporters when asked about his conversation with Duterte on the sidelines of Laos meetings.

“Because the consequences of when you do it the wrong way are innocent people get hurt and you have a bunch of unintended consequences that don’t solve the problem.”

At the press conference marking the end of his trip to Laos, Obama said he was unfazed by Duterte’s slur.

“I don’t take these comments personally because it seems as if this is a phrase he’s used repeatedly including directed at the pope and others,” Obama said.

He added that such choice words were “a habit, a way of speaking for him” and had used the same “phrase” against other people, including Pope Francis.

Duterte has also branded US ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg and the United Nations as “sons of whores.”

However Obama cancelled a meeting with Duterte scheduled for Tuesday because of the outburst.

‘More will be killed

Duterte has said the Philippines is in danger of becoming a “narco state”, and eliminating drugs in society is the top priority of his administration.

Duterte was elected to office in a landslide this year after pledging to kill 100,000 people in an unprecedented war on crime.

He vowed in the campaign that so many bodies would be dumped in Manila Bay that the fish there would grow fat from feeding on them.

Duterte has also repeatedly promised to protect police from prosecution if they are charged over the deaths and insisted human rights cannot get in the way of his war.

On the day he was sworn into office, June 30, Duterte urged people living in a Manila slum to kill drug addicts in their community.

His handpicked police chief, Ronald dela Rosa, last month called for drug addicts to kill traffickers and burn down their homes.

The UN special rapporteur on summary executions has warned incitement to kill is a crime under international law.

However Duterte has remained unrepentant.

“More people will be killed, plenty will be killed until the last pusher is out of the streets,” Duterte said on Monday. Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.