PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte won’t let US President Donald Trump lecture him on human rights when they meet in Vietnam at the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Econ omic Cooperation (APEC) forum, or in Manila during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.
Duterte, in a news conference before leaving for the APEC meeting, said he would hear out the American President, but won’t be made to do things inimical to Philippine interest.
“I would decide what is best for my country alone. It will be a decision that will promote the higher, even the greatest interest of my country, in the meeting. I will not go there to be subservient or serve as a lackey for anyone,” Duterte said.
“You want to ask me about human rights? I would say lay off [that topic]. It is none of your business. I will nurture my country to health,” Duterte added.
Duterte launched a series of tirades against the US last year because of its criticism of his government’s drug war.
Before the APEC meeting in Peru in September 2016, Duterte said he would curse then US President Barack Obama if he raised the issue of the alleged extrajudicial killings.
Police say at least 3,800 people have been killed in legitimate anti-drug operations. Human rights groups place the figure at 13,000.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque said President Duterte was not on his way to becoming a dictator.
In an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, Roque underscored that President Duterte, being a lawyer, knows and follows the law.
“I am not ready to concede that the Philippine President has a tendency towards authoritarianism. The Philippines, a former American colony, inherited the Constitution of the United States. The fact that we have followed the Constitution of the United States which provides for checks and balance among co-equal branches of government will belie the [claims of]so-called authoritarian tendencies,” Roque said when asked if Duterte had dictatorial tendencies like Trump.
“President Duterte is schooled in the law, including the American legal system which inspired our Bill of Rights and the Constitution. The President has a very good grasp of the American constitution and American values that adheres to fundamental human rights,” Roque added.