DAVAO CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – "Who is Obama to ask me that? I’ll tell you, 'Who are you?'" said President Rodrigo Duterte as he prepared to depart for Laos where he will engage in bilateral talks with, among others, United States President Barack Obama.
Duterte gave a short press conference on Monday, September 5, before he boarded his plane to Laos for the ASEAN Summit.
The Philippine President, at the helm of a deadly campaign against illegal drugs, said he will not answer Obama's questions on human rights if he does not receive an apology for the United States' deadly pacification of Moros in Mindanao at the start of the 20th century.
"Wala akong pakialam sa kanya (I don't care about him). Who is he? When, as a matter of fact, at the turn of the century, before the Americans left the Philippines in the pacification campaign of the Moro in this island, there were about – 6 million ang population ng Moro (the Moros had a population of 6 million). How many died? Six hundred. Answer that question and give the apology, I will answer it," said a visibly angry Duterte.
Duterte and Obama are scheduled to hold bilateral talks on Tuesday, September 6, in Vientiane, Laos.
Another human rights issue the US must answer for, claimed Duterte, is "how they treat the migrants there."
Duterte wondered why Filipino journalists seem to side with Obama instead of with fellow Filipinos.
"Masyado kayong bilib sa America, bumilib kayo dito sa atin. Siya mag explain sa akin bakit ganoon extrajudicial killing nila," he said. (You believe in America too much, believe in us. He should explain their extrajudicial killings.)
Duterte, who has never hesitated to express his anti-colonialist views, said he refuses to "kneel down before anyone else except the Filipino."
"I do not have any master except the Filipino people," he said emphatically.
Despite criticism for his drug war, both in the country and abroad, "the campaign against drugs will continue," he said.
"Plenty will be killed until the last pusher is out of this place, until the drug manufacturer is killed...I don't give a shit about anybody observing my behavior," said Duterte.
The US State Department recently said President Obama is "not going to pull any punches" when he discusses human rights issues with Duterte.
The US has released a list of concerns under the Duterte administration which include the rise of extrajudicial killings and Duterte calling US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg "gay" and "a son of a bitch." – 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.