Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he'll never visit 'lousy' America

President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila on July 18. Mr Duterte made the declaration after various advocate groups assailed his bloody war on drugs during a US Congress human rights commission hearing.
President Rodrigo Duterte at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila on July 18. Mr Duterte made the declaration after various advocate groups assailed his bloody war on drugs during a US Congress human rights commission hearing.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Friday (July 21) that he would never visit "lousy" America despite an earlier invitation extended by United States President Donald Trump.

Mr Duterte made the declaration as he expressed anger at a US Congress human rights commission hearing where various advocate groups assailed his bloody war on drugs.

"There will never be a time during my term when I will be going to America or thereafter," he told reporters.

"I've seen America and it's lousy. They have many human rights violations," he added, referring to US troops fighting in the Middle East.

Mr Duterte, who took office last year, previously announced he was distancing the country from its main defence ally, the US, after the administration of then President Barack Obama criticised his bloody anti-drug campaign which has left thousands dead.

But after Mr Trump was elected president, he called up Mr Duterte in April and praised the campaign, even inviting him to the White House.

At the time, Mr Duterte said he could not commit to such a visit because he had other overseas trips scheduled.

At a hearing on Thursday in Washington on human rights violations under Mr Duterte's war on drugs, US Congressman James McGovern said that Mr Duterte should not have been invited and that he would lead protests against the Philippine leader if he appeared.

This prompted the angry rejoinder from Mr Duterte, who said: "What makes that guy think I will go to America?"

The Philippine President had previously called Mr Obama a "son of a whore" for his criticism but has been friendly towards Mr Trump.

Mr Duterte continues to enjoy wide popular support despite the spate of killings.