VICE PRESIDENT Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on Wednesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to stop his expletive-laden tirades against foreign leaders, warning that foreign aid crucial to the country’s development was at risk.
“I wish that he (Duterte) does not speak that way. It is a reminder not only to him but also [to]all public officials.
Everything that the President says should not be personal. As public officials, everything that we say is a policy.
He should be more careful in dealing with other countries,” Robredo said in a news conference.
The President’s attacks, she warned, could strain diplomatic ties and eventually cut the flow of aid, she said.
“Foreign aid is a big help for us, and those are given to us because of the level of their (foreign aid sources) trust and confidence in us. It is not something that we can do away with just like that because we worked hard to reach that certain level of comfort and trust,” Robredo said.
Robredo made the call a day after the President – still on the defensive amid international criticism of his bloody anti-drug war—said US President Barack Obama should “go to hell” and that the EU could “choose purgatory.”
It was the latest of Duterte’s series of tirades whose targets have also included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Robredo reminded the President: “We don’t live in an island.”
‘Dignity and respect’
Reacting to Robredo’s statements, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the President was more concerned with being treated with “dignity and respect” than keeping the flow of aid.
The United States is the country’s largest source of official development assistance (ODA), at $1.15 billion in 2014. The United Nations came in second with $608 million, followed by Australia with $587 million and the European Union with $175 million.
The rest of the top 10 are Japan with $167 million, Germany with $125 million, Asian Development Bank with $118 million, South Korea with $94 million and the World Bank with $84 million.
China and Russia, world powers Duterte wants to build alliances with, do not belong to the top 10 ODA sources.
Robredo said the Philippines could become close to China and Russia “but we don’t need to remove friends as a result of that.”
=At the Senate, Senator Panfilo Lacson told reporters Duterte’s latest remarks were “unnecessary.”
Don’t take it literally
Discussing Duterte’s latest attacks against the US and EU, Malacañang asked the public to “use creative imagination” to understand the President’s statements.
“Let’s not be too literal,” Abella said in a news conference.
Abella said most of the President’s statements were “expressions of frustration” and that the public should wait for him to clarify his comments on the matter.
On Monday, Sen. Richard Gordon said Duterte was “falling on his own sword” for being “too noisy” in publicly expressing his desire to kill suspected drug users and pushers.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas also called on Duterte to refrain from making public pronouncements and advised him to just focus on his job.
Duterte apologized to the Jewish community on Sunday after saying he was “happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts just like Hitler exterminated six million Jews during the Holocaust.
The President made the parallel reference last week as he expressed frustration at being labeled “a cousin of Hitler” by critics.