After comparing himself to Hitler last week, only to apologize to the Jewish community shortly after, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte found it impossible to keep his foot out of his mouth again, and told US president Barack Obama "you can go to hell" in a speech Tuesday that was his latest tirade against the U.S. over its criticism of his deadly anti-drug campaign; the president also said the United States had refused to sell some weapons to his country but he did not care because Russia and China were willing suppliers.
Duterte also lashed out once again at the European Union, which has also criticized his brutal crackdown: "EU, better choose purgatory. Hell is full already. Why should I be afraid of you?"
In a speech quoted by AP before a local convention attended by officials and business executives, Duterte "outlined his disappointments with the U.S., which has asked his government to stop the widespread killings under his anti-drug campaign and has questioned whether human rights are being violated. He also described Washington as an unreliable ally, saying Filipino forces have not benefited from joint combat exercises with U.S. troops."
"Instead of helping us, the first to criticize is this State Department, so you can go to hell, Mr. Obama, you can go to hell," Duterte said. Then addressing the EU, he said: "Better choose purgatory, hell is filled up."
He wasn't finished. As Reuters adds, in his latest salvo, Duterte said he was realigning his foreign policy because the United States had failed the Philippines and added that at some point, "I will break up with America". It was not clear what he meant by "break up".
During three tangential and fiercely worded speeches in Manila, Duterte said the United States did not want to sell missiles and other weapons, but 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. "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'.
At a later speech he said he was emotional because the United States had not been a friend of the Philippines since his election in May.
"They just ... reprimand another president in front of the international community," he told the Jewish community at a synagogue. "This is what happens now, I will be reconfiguring my foreign policy. Eventually, I might in my time I will break up with America."
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."
His comments were the latest in a near-daily barrage of hostility toward the United States, during which Duterte has started to contrast the former colonial power with its geopolitical rivals Russia and China. On Sunday, he said he had got support from Russia and China when he complained to them about the United States. He also said he would review a U.S.-Philippines Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement.
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Despite his sharp rhetoric, Duterte said he will not abrogate a 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty with the U.S. and will maintain the long alliance with America, one of his country's largest trading partners and provider of development and military aid and defense equipment.
Duterte last week said the joint U.S.-Philippine combat exercises to be held this week, the first of his presidency, would also be the last of his tenure. The exercises, centering on amphibious landing drills, started Tuesday under some uncertainty because of those remarks. Marine commanders from both sides said at the opening ceremony that the exercises, involving 1,100 American and 400 Filipino military personnel, are aimed at improving readiness by the two countries to respond to a range of crises while deepening their historic ties.
Still, for now there appears to be no official escalation:
U.S. Embassy officials said Washington has not been formally notified by the Philippine government of any move to scrap other planned drills. Such a move by the Philippines would impede Washington's plans to expand the footprint of U.S. forces in Southeast Asia to counter China.
A Philippine military spokesman for the ongoing exercises, Capt. Ryan Lacuesta, sidestepped the question of whether Duterte's remarks have affected the troops and the atmosphere of the drills, partly staged to improve camaraderie between the two combat forces.
"As much as I would like to answer that question, I would leave that to higher authorities," Lacuesta said Tuesday.
While Duterte's stark rhetoric has so far not lead to any greater diplomatic fallout, the market has noticed the rising tensions and as the chart below shows, the Philippines of the CDS has surged in recent weeks.