PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has launched another scathing attack on the United States, this time, in front of Washington’s new ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim.
In remarks during a gathering for the “Negosyo Para Sa Kapayapaan Sulu” project in Malacañang on Monday night, Duterte said it was an “insult” when the US deferred a new aid package for the Philippines over alleged human rights violations in relation to his anti-drug war.
“With due respect to the ambassador of United States, [when]you are dealing with Asians, be careful of your language. You could not do that to the Japanese and to the Koreans…They feel insulted. Why do you have to say, ‘We will cut your aid,’” the President said.
“It’s actually, at the end of the day, I would say to you, it is dignity. Just because there are human rights violations, you do not say that you will never have the aid. We do not need it. Bakit sabihin mo pa [Why do you have to say], ‘Mr. Duterte, if this thing continues, you’ll lose the assistance.’ It is actually an insult,” he added.
Kim, who was in the Palace event, was seen smiling awkwardly while the President was ranting against the Americans.
The US, through an aid-giving body under the State department, the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), has deferred a decision on a new development aid package for the Philippines. The MCC gave the Philippines $434 million from 2010 to 2016 for various projects, including roads and livelihood assistance for the poor.
Duterte has dismissed the decision, and on Monday night reiterated that he could get assistance from China instead.
“I do not need your assistance, challenge—Millennium Challenge, $400 million? China is going to release to me 50 billion. Go home, I do not need your aid,” the President said, without specifying the currency.
“When you say ‘We will not give you because of this’ (drug-related killings), we’re pictured as, it is a Visayan idiom, I don’t know if you can understand, ‘patay-gutom’ [dead hungry]. You’re dead because you’re hungry. We don’t care if you are dead because of starvation. It’s actually a slur,” he added.
Duterte then repeated his suggestion that the US air its concerns to the United Nations, which can then conduct an investigation into the alleged drug-related deaths that have reached 5,300 since the President assumed office on June 30.
“Just say outright, please stop or this…We are members of the United Nations correct? You guys put your complaint there for the violations then whatever happens there, the human rights commission shall conduct an investigation,” he said.
A UN special rapporteur, Agnes Callamard, wants to visit the country and conduct a probe in the first quarter of 2017. But Callamard said she could not comply with Duterte’s conditions for the probe, in particular his demand for her to respond to his questions under oath and during a public forum.
Duterte maintained that he was not encouraging state forces to perform unlawful acts.
“If you do not agree with me fine, I will not take it against you. But do not engage me in, like, [a]question of law. I should know what I’m doing…I never declared police punitive action,” the President said.
“Right from the start, I said, I’m going to wage a war because the casualty now is four million. Do I need another year and be afraid of human rights and all of these things?” he added.
“Four million” is the figure often cited by the President as an estimate of the number of drug dependents in the country.