EU calls up Philippine envoy to explain Duterte's tirade

The European Union has summoned the Philippines' envoy in Brussels to explain an expletive-laden tirade by President Rodrigo Duterte threatening to hang EU officials opposing his bloody drug war.

The EU's external action service, the equivalent of a foreign affairs office, said it called Charge d'Affaires Alan Deniega to its Brussels headquarters on Monday afternoon to provide "an explanation for the recent unacceptable comments of President Duterte".

The move highlights growing European exasperation with Mr Duterte.

The 72-year-old strongman lashed out at the EU last Friday for criticising his anti-narcotics crackdown that has so far led to over 7,000 killings of criminal suspects by police and vigilantes.

"I will just be happy to hang you. If I have the preference, I'll hang all of you," Mr Duterte said. "You are putting us down. You are exerting pressure in every country with the death penalty."

He also chastised the EU for suggesting "a health-based solution" to the Philippines' drug problem, calling the proposal a "government-sponsored idiotic exercise".

He claimed what the EU wanted was for the government to build clinics where methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin could be dispensed to addicts.

The EU denied his claims, saying in a statement that it has not "suggested, discussed, proposed or considered the use of any substitution drugs when treating addiction to methamphetamine... or any other drug addiction in the Philippines".

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella explained yesterday that Mr Duterte was telling the EU not to meddle in the country's affairs. He also said that despite Mr Duterte's tirades, the Philippines' ties with Europe "are quite solid and economically based".

The President's anti-crime drive has alarmed the EU, Western governments and United Nations rights officials.

Mr Duterte has denied condoning extrajudicial killings but has repeatedly threatened drug suspects with death.

He has said he will not be intimidated by critics' threats to impeach him or file a case against him before the International Criminal Court for the killings.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2017, with the headline 'EU calls up Philippine envoy to explain Duterte's tirade'. Print Edition | Subscribe