Duterte rails at West's 'hypocrisy' at meeting with his hero Putin

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit in Lima, Peru, on Nov 19, 2016.
Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders' Summit in Lima, Peru, on Nov 19, 2016.PHOTO: EPA

LIMA (Peru) • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has met the man he calls his hero, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and unburdened his gripes about the West's "hypocrisy", "bullying" and foreign wars.

Mr Duterte, who has publicly expressed his admiration for the Russian leader, told Mr Putin on Saturday that the Cold War had stood between their two countries as the Philippines was historically identified with the West. But that has changed now that he is president.

Since taking office in June, the foul-mouthed Mr Duterte has upended the Philippines' military alliance with the US, repeatedly saying he was shifting towards China and Russia as he embarks on an independent foreign policy.

"It was good (while) it lasted," Mr Duterte told Mr Putin of what he has called his "separation" from the US.

"Of late, I see a lot of these Western nations bullying small nations. And not only that, they are into so much hypocrisy," he said during their 45-minute meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Lima.

"And they seem to start a war but are afraid to go to war.

"That is what is wrong with America and the others. They've been waging wars in so many places - in Vietnam, in Afghanistan and in Iraq for one single reason that there was a weapon of mass destruction, and there was none."

Mr Duterte also said the US "forced" the Philippines to fight in its wars in Vietnam and Iraq.

When Manila pulled out non- combat troops that were part of the US-led coalition against dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2004 following threats to behead a kidnapped Filipino worker there, Washington "made it hard for us", Mr Duterte told Mr Putin in a video shot by the Philippine presidential palace broadcast team.

"These are the things I see which is not a good idea," Mr Duterte said in English.

He also said the Philippines longed to be part of Europe.

"Despite the distance, we have been longing to be part of Europe, especially in commerce and trade around the world," he said.

Mr Putin congratulated Mr Duterte on his election win and said he had done a lot in a short time to build trust and confidence between Russia and the Philippines.

Mr Duterte, who has cultivated an image as a no-nonsense leader, said last month that "my favourite hero is Putin". He has also said that he and Mr Putin seem to share a passion for guns and women.

Mr Duterte missed the gala dinner at the Apec summit on Saturday evening, saying he was sick.

Staying put in his hotel may have avoided a potentially awkward encounter with US President Barack Obama, who cancelled a meeting with him at another summit in September after Mr Duterte called him a "son of a whore".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte rails at West's 'hypocrisy' at meeting with his hero Putin'. Print Edition | Subscribe