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MANILA, Philippines – There’s no way President Rodrigo Duterte will soften his harsh words against the United States.
He claimed he was asked to do just this by US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel during Russel’s visit to the Philippines.
Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr had relayed Russel’s words to him in a phone conversation. Yasay apparently didn’t want Duterte to reveal this to the public. But the President could not stop himself from speaking about it in a press conference on Tuesday, October 25, before his departure for Japan.
“Eh kahapon tumawag si Secretary Yasay nandito raw itong siya [Russel]. Ang sabi ni – nag-usap daw sila, sabi na, ‘if you can just tone down your rhetoric against America.’ Sabi ko, huwag ninyo akong ganunin,” he said.
(Yesterday, Secretary Yasay called, he said [Russel] is here. He said, they talked and Russel said, ‘if you can just tone down your rhetoric against America.’ I said, don’t do that to me.)
Duterte did not take kindly to the advice.
“Every time, sabihin na they threatened us pati itong EU, akala mo mas bright kaysa sa atin (Every time, they say they threaten us, including the EU, you’d think they are brighter than us),” he said.
Duterte insisted that it was the US that began the word war. He reminded the media that US Ambassador Philip Goldberg had commented on his controversial rape remark, one of the lowest points in his presidential campaign. Apparently, Duterte has not yet moved on from this incident.
“Ang nag-una sila. Remember ang puno’t dulo nito ano? Iyong eleksyon, I made a comment in narration of an actual event which happened in Davao and which was covered by all media outlets there, tapos the Ambassador said something not very nice,” he said.
(They started it. Remember how this began? During elections, I made a comment in narration of an actual event which happened in Davao and which was covered by all meda outlets there then the Ambassador said something not very nice.)
No dependence on China
Duterte, who has declared an intention to forge a foreign policy that does not “dovetail” with US interests, said he is not a pawn of the Western power.
“Depende na lang kung maka-President ang Pilipinas na tuta ninyo (It depends if you will get a Philippine president who is your lap dog). You count me out. I’m not one of them,” he said.
Amid claims that he is pushing the Philippines to dependency on China, Duterte said, “I am not also a tuta (lap dog) of any country.”
“Wala kaming pinag-usapan sa China kung hindi paano magluto ng siopao nang maganda pati chopsuey. Eh kung may ibigay ang China eh di pasalamat, eh ‘di wala, eh ‘di huwag,” he said.
(We talked about nothing in China except how to make siopao and chopsuey. If China gives, then ‘thank you,’ if not, then nothing.)
The week before, Duterte announced his “separation” from the US but later clarified that he did not mean a severance of diplomatic ties. – Rappler.com