MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte is apparently not slowing down on his tirades against United States President Barack Obama.
"Mr Obama, you can go to hell. EU [European Union], better choose purgatory. Puno na ang impiyerno. Bakit ako matakot sa inyo? (Hell is full. Why should I be scared of you?)" said Duterte on Tuesday, October 4, during a gathering of local government officials in a Makati City hotel.
Ever since the US State Department began releasing statements critical of his drug war, Duterte has filled his speeches with invectives and colorful threats against the United States.
It came to a head when his curse-laden remarks against Obama led to the US President cancelling a meeting with Duterte at an international summit in Laos in early September.
In his Tuesday speech, Duterte said he would never "kneel" before the US.
"Mas mabuti pa magluhod ako sa mga king of Brunei, Thailand. Huwag mo ako paluhurin sa America. Never. Ayaw ko talaga. You can do your worst actually," he said.
(I would rather kneel before the King of Brunei, Thailand. Don't make me kneel before America. Never. I refuse. You can do your worst actually.)
During his visit to a Jewish community in a synagogue in the same city, Duterte said he would "break up" with America during his term if the criticism continue.
"If this is what happens, I said, I will be reconfiguring my foreign policy. Eventually, I might, in my time, I will break up wth America. I'd rather go to China and Russia," he said.
Duterte said he prefers these two countries over the US, a traditional ally of the Philippines in the West, because of the "respect" they have shown.
"At least even if we do not agree with their ideology, they have respect for the people," Duterte said.
At the Jewish event, he again brought up his grievances against the US, blaming them for heaping criticism on him without helping with the Philippines' drug problem.
"America has certainly failed us, instead of being a friend...Reprimand another President in front of the internatonal [community], is that good?" he asked.
According to the Dangerous Drugs Board, there are 1.8 million drug users in the Philippines – a figure much lower than the 3 million estimate Duterte often cites.
To an audience of Israeli Jews, the Philippine leader even expressed admiration for longtime Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, known to have strained ties with Obama.
"America? He does not listen to America. 'Just shut up, we have our own problem.' But can they ever chastise Netanyahu? No, he will never allow it. Me, I will not," said Duterte. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.