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Philippine president reaffirms his deadly anti-drug campaign

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrived at the National Convention Center for scheduled bilateral meetings with ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and other related summits today, in Vientiane, Laos.

VIENTIANE, Laos » Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte defiantly reaffirmed his controversial campaign against drugs today and called for a redoubling of crime-fighting efforts across Southeast Asia as he prepared to face two prominent critics of his policy: President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

”We shall not be cowed. We must press on,” he declared in a speech at a business and investment conference on the sidelines of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which he is attending. He called for increased use of intelligence gathering and more arrests.

The summit has been overshadowed by his use of profane language toward Obama. Duterte also threatened earlier to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations over criticism of his crackdown on illegal drug trade that has led to a wave of extrajudicial killings. More than 2,000 people have been killed since June 30, when he took office after winning election on a promise to fight crime and corruption.

On Wednesday he is to attend a gala dinner with both Obama and Ban, as well as join a meeting that the two leaders will have with ASEAN heads of state and government.

Earlier today, Duterte expressed regret over his “son of a bitch” remark while referring to Obama, in a rare display of contrition by a politician whose wide arc of profanities has unabashedly targeted world figures including the pope.

In a statement read by his spokesman, Duterte said his “strong comments” in response to questions by a reporter “elicited concern and distress, we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the U.S. president.”

Duterte made the intemperate remarks Monday before flying to Laos. He had been scheduled to meet Obama separately today, but the White House canceled the meeting.

Even though Duterte’s statement did not amount to an apology, the expression of regret is unusual for the tough-talking former mayor, who is unapologetic about his manner of speech and liberally peppers casual statements with profanities.

Duterte’s aides are likely to have realized there would be a price to pay for insulting the president of the United States.

The U.S. is one of the Philippines’ largest trading partners and a key security ally in its fight against Muslim militants in the country’s south. Manila also needs Washington’s help in dealing with a more assertive China in the disputed South China Sea. The U.S. provides hundreds of millions of dollars in annual assistance to the Philippine military.

Duterte likely had realized his folly by the time he arrived in the Laotian capital of Vientiane on Monday night.

Speaking to reporters here, he said, “I do not want to quarrel with the most powerful country on the planet,” but immediately returned to his typical combative approach, saying: “Washington has been so liberal about criticizing human rights (abuses), human rights and human rights. How about you? I have so many questions also about human rights to ask you. So … people who live in glass houses should not” throw stones.

He said if the White House had problems with him, it could have sent him a diplomatic note and let him respond. “There’s a protocol for that,” Duterte said. “You just cannot shoot a statement against the president of any country.”

But by today, he had done a complete U-turn in the tone of his statement.

“We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries,” his statement said.

The flap over Duterte’s remarks started when a reporter asked him how he intended to explain the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers to Obama. Duterte responded: “I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody. You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. Putang ina, I will swear at you in that forum,” he said, using the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch.”

Duterte has previously cursed Pope Francis and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“Who is he (Obama) to confront me?” Duterte said, adding that the Philippines had not received an apology from the United States for misdeeds committed during its colonization of the country.

He pointed to the killing of Muslim Moros more than a century ago during a U.S. pacification campaign in the southern Philippines, blaming the wounds of the past as “the reason why (the south) continues to boil” with separatist insurgencies.

Duterte has had a troubled relationship with the United States, criticizing its inability to stop violence in the Middle East and Africa, and citing U.S. police shootings of black Americans.

He has also taken a more conciliatory position with U.S. rival China. Philippine-China ties were strained under Duterte’s predecessors due to territorial conflicts in the South China Sea. Duterte proclaimed early in his presidency that he would pursue a foreign policy not dependent on the United States.

Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, under whose watch U.S.-Philippine relations blossomed, expressed disappointment over the canceled meeting with Obama.

“An invaluable occasion to have our leaders meet for the purpose of discussing how to strengthen our comprehensive areas of cooperation would have been a golden opportunity,” del Rosario said.

Associated Press journalists Jim Gomez and Tassanee Vejpongsa contributed to this report.

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    • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, like Mao Tse Tung in 1949, has EXACTLY the right approach to eradicate the dope problem, while we ultra self indulged and permissive citizens of the USA have not even waged so much as a squirt gun fight – – let alone’war’ – – against illegal narcotics.

      The ONLY way to eradicate dope is to wage an unrelenting, merciless war against USERS like Mao did: give those willing to come forward a six month amnesty window in which to undergo ‘treatment’ (cold turkey behind razor wire) after which any dealing, growing, transportation, distribution, use &c. carries with it an immediate curbside tribunal followed by firing squad execution.

      Anything less and we are just kidding ourselves about the so called “scourge” of narcotics.

      • Lol, you’re talking about crack heads who can’t swim who would jump into the deep end of the pool for a $5 rock. Firing squad, lol they could give 2 s–ts about dying.

        • Duterte is killing off the small time drug dealers but doing nothing about government corruption which is the main problem in the Philippines.

      • I suppose the fact that there were drug abusers among the millions who died via Mao’s dim mak just makes it all worth it. And, the rest? Well, they were guilty of something by golly – or they wouldn’t have been in trouble.

        Who’s next on your canonization list? Stalin, right? A brilliant gamesman like you wouldn’t choose Chancellor H. Too obvious.

    • The United States is not a third world country where the rights of their citizens aren’t worth anything. Countries such as China are always trying to find ways to control their population, so they will execute their people for any small infraction. People think it’s fine and dandy until they end up in the wrong end of the law due to some misunderstanding or mistake.

  • maybe duterte can help us with our infamous meth problem. cholo would prefer there be sufficient proof before putting a slug between the eyes of drug dealers rather than being just suspected in dealing. at the very least we would save on the costs of jailing and having these low lifes re-offend when they inevitably get released back into the public to create more mayhem. stop the cycle already!

    • Only less than 10% of meth in the USA originates from the P.I. The majority of meth components come from China. There isn’t a direct link in the P.I. between meth users and the floundering economy. The bigger problem is corruption, pollution, and infrastructure. The economy under Duterte has worsened, not improved. Major investors will not invest in a Country where violence is uncontrolled and political stability questionable.

    • Not mentioned in this article is the fact that the reason the RP has a dope problem is largely because of us.

      Thanks to the ultra permissive, utterly irresponsible cry baby boom – if it feels good, do it – cohort and the war ignited in Vietnam by the worst president we ever had, our extensive logistic support presence on Luzon was what made the demand for dope grow for almost a decade and a half.

      Duterte is largely cleaning up the mess WE made of his country. Small wonder he has little patience for that dud we put in the White House.

  • While I wouldn’t support Duterte’s actions here I can understand the need for it in the Philippines. The country is notoriously corrupt and no amount of reasoning will bring about a change. Sometimes drastic situations call for drastic actions.

    • Given the actions of the current occupant of the White House and his former SecState, no one in this country is on safe ground call ANY other country corrupt.

    • Extrajudicial justice is a genie you cannot put back in the bottle once you let it out. There are already reports of Filipino police officers shaking down merchants saying they will impose “justice” on them if they don’t pay a bribe. It was all a smoke screen. Drugs were a problem in the Philippines, but official corruption, poverty, and the depletion of resources are a bigger problem. Rodrigo got elected by selling the Filipinos on a straw man. People are all happy that a couple thousand small time dealers and users got killed, but did that do anything to improve the quality of life for their citizens? Of course not, the delears have probably been replaced on the streets and the problems underlying the society remain. I don’t know what they expect, they’ve been hanging drug dealers in Indonesia for decades and that hasn’t stopped people from using or dealing drugs.

  • Maybe rather than expending his efforts on killing of the small drug users…. switch focus to those militants that kidnap and hold people for ransom. Get rid of those first then refocus on drug users.

  • His Filipino temper got the best of him and he went off. Well, low IQ, high drama, that’s how it usually goes. the only problem is he went off on the wrong guy. If anyone here doubts that Obama carries a big stick, think again.

    • Not sure if you have attended college but it has been proven that race has nothing to do with impacting negative emotions. No such thing as “Filipino temper” – there is, however, “human temper”. I can recommend a good class over at the UH that can help to educate.

  • …”a soft word turnest away anger”.

    “to thine own self be true, for as night follows day, thouest can’ts not be false to any man”.

    character is more important than principle.

  • Good for Duterte. He’s doing what his voters support, that is to get rid of drug dealers in his country. His country folks, not ours. If Barry followed the same example, half of his brothers would be missing from our inner cities.

  • Does it matters who get rid of drug addicts and those that sell them. Both groups are evil entities that stunt the growth of healthy environment and a civilized society. It’s time we become aggressively and fearlessly determine to eradicate the scums of the earth. Drug addicts and their promoters.

  • The only Filipinos complaining are the druggies and their families. Many admire what Duterte is doing because he is doing it for his people. Criminals don’t fight fair so why not take the war to them. In the US corrupt politicians rule government and criminals rule the streets. Police are criticized for doing their job. We are moving backwards in the civilized world.

    • We must allow for a few innocent people to be killed – no system can be error-free. Death penalty for all repeat criminals and drug pushers and users, but through a court sentence. But not the way it is now that it takes many years and appeals before a person is executed.

  • This may create yet another opportunity for Trump to visit a foreign country before the election. Barry needs to tread lightly for his endorsed candidate…

  • There Obama goes flapping his ears getting involved in other people’s business. His backyard (Chicago) is so messed up the birth rate can’t keep up with the murder rate. Maybe that’s Crooked Clinton’s new policy on crime. Who knows. All she does is cough. No class, doesn’t cover her mouth. Spreads germs. She spends 100 million on attack ads monthly. She’s on the phone tree to the Clingites asking for more and more money.
    There is something about 9/11 that doesn’t agree with the Democrats.

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