Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Duterte tells Obama to 'go to hell', threatens to end PH alliance with US

From InterAksyon (Oct 5): Duterte tells Obama to 'go to hell', threatens to end PH alliance with US

Firebrand Philippine President 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 favor 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.

In his latest salvo, Duterte said he had lost respect for the United States and railed at its concerns about his bloody war on drugs, calling his critics "fools" who could not stop him carrying out a campaign that has killed more than 3,400 people in just over three months.

"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.

He said the United States should have supported the Philippines in tackling its chronic drugs problems but instead criticized him for the high death toll, as did the European Union.

"Instead of helping us, the first to hit was the (US) State Department. So you can go to hell, Mr Obama, you can go to hell," he said.

"EU, better choose purgatory. Hell is full already. Why should I be afraid of you?"

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 defense pact.

His comments were the latest in a near-daily avalanche of hostility toward the United States, during which Duterte has started to contrast the former colonial power with its geopolitical rivals Russia and China.

"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 3,400 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 defense 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".

Before flying to Laos for the ASEAN Summit, Duterte told reporters that he would curse Obama if he lectures him on human rights in connection with the drug-related killings.

Military ties between the Philippines and the United States had grown stronger in recent years partly in response to China's expanding presence in the strategically vital South China Sea.

China claims nearly all of the sea, even waters close to the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations, and has in recent years built artificial islands in the disputed areas that are capable of hosting military bases.

To counter China, the Philippines' previous president, Benigno Aquino III, sought to draw the United States closer.

This included the signing on 2014 of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), a new US-Philippines defense pact that allowed thousands more US soldiers to rotate through the Philippines and for American military hardware to be stationed on Filipino bases for maritime security and humanitarian and disaster response operations.

Aquino also launched international legal action that in July saw a UN-backed tribunal declare China's vast claims in the sea illegal.

However, Duterte has reversed course, warning he wants to scrap the new pact and that he will not allow any more joint patrols with the United States in the South China Sea.

On Tuesday, Duterte told Filipinos they could not count on the United States, the Philippines' former colonial ruler.

"Don't believe in those Americans; they will not fight to die for us," he said.

In a tangential, at times profane speech in Manila, Duterte said the United States did not want to sell missiles and other weapons, but he did not care because Russia and China had told him they could provide them easily.

"Although it may sound shit to you, it is my sacred duty to keep the integrity of this republic and the people healthy," Duterte said in his second of two televised speeches on Tuesday.

"If you don't want to sell arms, I'll go to Russia. I sent the generals to Russia and Russia said 'do not worry we have everything you need, we'll give it to you'.

"And as for China, they said 'just come over and sign and everything will be delivered'."
On Sunday, he said he had got support from Russia and China when he complained to them about the United States.

About 2,000 American and Filipino troops are taking part in the eight-day war games, which will be held partly in waters near the disputed areas of the South China Sea.

In speeches to launch the exercises in Manila, military chiefs from both sides acted as if relations were normal.

"I am confident that we will continue to build our partnership and capabilities together," the 3rd US Marine Expeditionary Force deputy commander, Brigadier General John Jansen, said at the opening ceremony.

However a statement released by the US Embassy in Manila, hinted at the tensions.

"We will continue to honor our alliance commitments, and we expect the Philippines to do the same," embassy spokeswoman Molly Koscina said in the statement.

According to some US officials, Washington has been doing its best to ignore Duterte's rhetoric and not provide him with a pretext for more outbursts.

While an open break with Manila would create problems in a region where China's influence has grown, there were no serious discussions about taking punitive steps such as cutting aid to the Philippines, two US officials said on Monday.

Several of Duterte's allies on Monday suggested he act more like a statesman because his comments had created a stir. On Tuesday, he said his outbursts were because he was provoked by criticism of his crackdown on drugs.

"When you are already at the receiving end of an uncontrollable rush, the only way out is to insult," he said.

"That is my retaliation."


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