IT WAS a fired-up President Rodrigo Duterte who ended up giving the lecture on human rights at the end of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summits in Vientiane, Laos on Thursday.
Meeting Filipinos during a working visit to Jakarta, Indonesia on Friday, Duterte said he needed to silence international critics of his bloody anti-drug war—US President Barack Obama and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon—by bringing up the forgotten massacre of hundreds of Moros during the pacification campaign of American colonizers in Mindanao a century ago.
Duterte said he made the intervention during the East Asia Summit that gathered 18 leaders including Obama and Ban, confirming reports by wire agencies Thursday night that quoted unnamed diplomats.
Duterte said he dropped his prepared speech and told the body: “This is human rights. What do you intend to do? Do not tell me that that’s water under the bridge. Human rights violation, whether committed by Moses or Abraham, is still a violation of human rights.”
He said he even showed photos and pages of historical accounts of the American pacification campaign, “since human rights was mentioned.”
Historical accounts of the major American massacre in Mindanao, the 1906 slaughter of Tausugs at the Bud Dajo crater in Sulu, placed the number of dead at 600 to 1,000, including women and children.
Duterte said he was waiting for Obama to respond., but the US President did not.
“When did this philosophy about the human dignity and human rights evolve? Now, or during this time? Tumahimik sila [They were silent],” Duterte said.
On Monday, Duterte launched an expletive-laden tirade against Obama before leaving for the Asean summits, which aides said was triggered by reports that the US President would “lecture” him on human rights.
As for Ban, Duterte said the UN chief mentioned human rights “in passing” in a “legitimate statement” and then immediately left. But he noted Ban spoke up about the human rights situation in the Philippines several weeks ago.
“Sabi ko, ‘Isa ka pang tarantado.’ Kaya nag-speech siya, may human rights pero … tapos tindig agad … sumibat [I said, ‘Here’s another confused person.’ He gave a speech, there’s human rights but … he rose immediately … and left],” Duterte said.
The speech was well-received by the Filipino crowd at the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta, who cheered Duterte’s rants against Obama and Ban.
‘No healing in Mindanao’
Duterte, the first Philippine President from Mindanao, went on to blame the American pacification campaign for continued unrest in the island.
Unrest in Mindanao continues because the Moros view the Filipino government in Manila as merely an extension of Spanish and American imperialism, he argued.
Malacañan Palace, the colonial edifice occupied by Spanish and American governors general that now serves as the official residence of Philippine presidents, is seen by Moros as a symbol of continued subjugation, he said.
“Why has there been no healing in Mindanao? Because they were slaughtered by the imperialists!” Duterte exclaimed.