PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he won’t bow to US President Barack Obama on accusations of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses in connection with the government’s anti-drug campaign.
In a news conference in Davao City before leaving for Laos for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summits, Duterte said he had nothing to explain to Obama, as the Philippines is not beholden to the US.
“The Philippines is not vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States … I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines. I don’t care about him. Who is he?” Duterte told reporters.
The President again brought up history, saying the Americans slaughtered Moro people during their occupation in the early 1900s.
“As a matter of fact, before the Americans left the Philippines in the pacification campaign of the Moro in this island (Mindanao), there were about six million [Moros]. How many died?” he said.
Duterte then demanded an apology from the US for the sins of the past: “If he can answer that question and give the apology, I will answer him.”
The Philippines, a former US colony, is the oldest ally of the US in Asia, but Duterte has not been shy in expressing his mistrust and misgivings on the superpower.
“I do not want to pick a quarrel with Obama, but certainly I would not appear to be beholden to anybody. I only am answerable again to the Filipino people who elected me as President. Period,” Duterte said.
A still unidentified newspaper columnist also earned the ire of the President for imposing on him on foreign policy.
“You write columns as if you are the lapdogs of this American. Who is he to confront me?” he said.
Cayetano writes Obama
Also on Monday, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who ran for vice president under Duterte but lost, said he had written an open letter to Obama, appealing for the US leader to help the Philippine government pursue an independent foreign policy.
Cayetano, who also heads the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, explained that an independent foreign policy was necessary to balance the Philippines’ relations with the US and China.
In the letter, he said President Duterte had been “misjudged” by some sectors based on the way he speaks, aggravated by a supposed misinformation campaign on the human rights situation in the country.
“Does he (Duterte) not deserve to be judged on his record and his actions? On facts and not manipulated statistics? On where he wants to bring the country rather than his sometimes politically incorrect words?” he said in his letter.