MANILA (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has insisted that he snubbed US leader Barack Obama after Washington cancelled their scheduled bilateral meeting in Laos last week.
Duterte sparked a storm ahead of an Asian gathering by labelling Obama a “son of a whore”, and prompting the US leader to cancel planned talks between the two allies on Sept 6. The pair met briefly later after Duterte expressed regret.
But the fiery Filipino leader said Monday (Sept 12) he skipped another meeting there two days later between Obama and Asean leaders, following US criticism of Manila’s anti-crime campaign which has claimed almost 3,000 lives.
“I purposely did not attend the bilateral talks between Asean countries and the president of the United States,” Duterte said in a speech to police and military personnel.
“I really skipped that one.” “You just cannot (lecture) a president of a sovereign state. Even Obama. It would have been wrong for him to do that. That is why I disrespected them.”
The former prosecutor mocked the “bleeding hearts” who criticised him for his human rights abuses, and reiterated his call for security forces to kill drug suspects and other criminals.
Duterte won presidential elections by a landslide in May after promising that tens of thousands of people would be killed in an unprecedented law-and-order crackdown. Security forces have relentlessly followed his orders since he took office on June 30.
But his actions have sparked a wave of international condemnation, including from the UN chief Ban Ki Moon and the US State Department.
In a brief encounter in Laos, Obama urged the Filipino leader to conduct his crime war “the right way” and protect human rights, but Duterte dismissed it as being none of America’s business.
Earlier Monday, Duterte said he was ordering all US special forces to leave the troubled southern Philippines where they have been advising local troops in battling Muslim extremists, saying the West was at the root of the persistent Muslim insurgency.
The US is the country’s main defence ally and former colonial ruler.