President lashes into US again ahead of Japan visit
Brings up old beefs alongside newer grudges
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte reignited his war of words with the United States on Tuesday, bringing up old grudges and throwing in some new musings on American influence in his country and the region.
A speech at the airport in Manila just before he departed for Japan echoed comments he made a week ago in Beijing, in which he pronounced the end of his country’s relationship with the United States, saying “America has lost.”
US Assistant Secretary for East Asian Affairs Danny Russel visited Manila last weekend to meet with Filipino officials, including the foreign and defense ministers, in an attempt to gain clarity on Duterte’s Beijing comments, after they caused “consternation” in the United States.
He said that the bad blood extends back to his country’s elections in May of this year, which he won by a landslide on the back of promises that he would crack down on crime, particularly drug crime.
“You know I didn’t start this fight. They started it,” he said, referring to comments about his human rights record, made by US Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg.
“They started it, then came out the issue of human rights, the State Department, Obama, EU. They did this to me. Then they said, we will cut our assistance. So I said to them, ‘son of a bitch, do not make us your dogs, as if I am a dog with a leash, and you throw some bread, where I can’t reach.’
“The ambassador said something not very nice. You are not supposed to do that because in an election of another country, you should be careful with your mouth.”
Signals end of military cooperation
On Tuesday he also held forth on the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the United States (ECDA), which he has previously suggested he will disregard, starting with the end to joint military drills.
“I do not want to see any military man of any other nation (in the Philippines), except the Filipino soldier,” he said.
“That’s the long and short of it. I want an independent policy where I don’t have to accede to anyone else.”
He also regaled his audience with a story criticizing his country’s unequal visa relationship with the US and rebutted reports that he holds a grudge because he was once refused a visa to travel to the US.
“The first time I went to America, this was the consul’s question, why are you going to America? I said to visit a girlfriend. Yes.
“He asked me, what if you decide to marry your girlfriend and you don’t come back here? I said, ‘Mr. Consul, even if you grant me a multiple lifetime visa and even if you give me $50,000, I will not go there anymore. I will stay in the Philippines.’”
South China Sea ruling
Speaking Monday to CNN affiliate TV Asahi, he said that he had downplayed his stance on the South China Sea during his recent state visit to China, saying that he did not bring up the Hague ruling on the controversial territorial grab by Asia’s largest economic power.
“I went there just being nice.
“One day we will have to talk about arbitrary judgment between (China and the Philippines). He added that it was a multilateral issue and “participation of Japan, Indonesia, even maybe maybe Australia.”
He said that he had promised his Foreign Secretary, Perfecto Yasay, not to speak out any more, but said he had changed his mind after reading the day’s newspapers.
Holding up one paper, he read the headline: “Duterte’s statements cause distress for business.”
“So leave!” he said, adding the Philippines will survive without foreign investors who are squeamish about his bullish rhetoric.