Firebrand Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte told US President Barack Obama to “go to hell” Tuesday, as he threatened to end his nation’s decades-old alliance with the United States in favour of China and Russia.
The fresh tirade came as the Philippines and the United States launched annual war games that Duterte had already warned may be the last of his presidency, in response to US criticism of his deadly war on crime.
“I have lost my respect for America,” Duterte said as he complained at length in two speeches about calls by the United States, the United Nations and the European Union to respect human rights.
“Mr Obama, you can go to hell.”
Duterte also branded Americans “hypocrites” and warned there may come a time when he would completely break the two nations’ alliance, which includes a mutual defence pact.
“Eventually I might in my term, break up with America. I would rather go to Russia or to China. Even if we do not agree with their ideology, they have respect for the people. Respect is important,” he said.
Duterte, who took office on June 30, has said the top priority of his six-year term is eradicating illegal drugs in society, and he is “happy to slaughter” three million addicts to achieve his goal.
More than 3,000 people have died in the crime war so far, according to official figures, with rights groups warning of vigilante death squads carrying out mass murder and a general breakdown in the rule of law.
Although he uses fierce rhetoric, Duterte insists he is not breaking any laws, that police are killing only in self defence and many of the other deaths are as a result of gang wars.
– ‘The right way’ –
Nevertheless, a UN rights envoy has warned Duterte may be breaking international law with incitements to kill.
Obama also last month urged Duterte at a regional summit in Laos to respect the rule of law and carry out his drug war “the right way”.
A few days earlier, Duterte had branded Obama a “son of a whore” after being told the US president would raise the rights concerns at the summit.