Duterte: I don't want to quarrel with Obama

VIENTIANE, Laos – "I do not want to quarrel with him. He’s the most powerful president of any country on the planet."

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made this remark about US President Barack Obama on Monday evening, September 5, as he blamed Washington officials for criticizing his government over extrajudicial killings.

In an interview with reporters shortly after he arrived in Laos, Duterte criticized "staff of the State Department" who "keep on mouthing" statements about human rights.

"You could have just sent me a note verbale or whatever, then let me respond," Duterte said. "You cannot just shoot a statement against the president of any country."

This comes after Duterte on Monday, in a press conference in Manila, questioned Obama over human rights.

Duterte said, "Who is Obama to ask me that? I’ll tell you, 'Who are you?'"

In response, Obama on Monday joked, "He's a colorful guy…I always want to make sure if I'm having a meeting that it's actually productive."

Asked if his meeting with Obama will push through, Duterte said: "I don’t know, maybe. If I feel good."

He added: "You know, the Philippines is an independent country. It is not a vassal state of anybody. So you must be very careful about your pronouncements. Washington has been so liberal about criticizing human rights and human rights. What about you?" – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.