Drugs

Obama Has Canceled His Philippines Visit After President Duterte Called Him a 'Son of a Bitch'

"Who does he think he is? I am no American puppet," the Philippine president said following White House criticisms of the country's bloody war on drugs.
September 6, 2016, 1:50pm

President Rodrigo Duterte in July. Image via Wikimedia Commons

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On Tuesday morning, the White House announced it would cancel a meeting between President Obama and the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte.

The canceled meeting follows Duterte's verbal attack on the US government after it raised concerns about the approach to drug policing and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. On September 5, Duterte called Obama a "son of a bitch" and warned that his country had long ceased to be a colony.

"Who does he think he is? I am no American puppet," Duterte said. "I am the president of a sovereign country, and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people."

President Duterte also criticized the United States's human rights record and blamed the US for civil unrest in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, which has seen constant tension between the government, Muslim communities, and indigenous peoples for decades.

"We inherited this problem from the United States," said Duterte. "Why? Because they invaded this country and made us their subjugated people."

Duterte entered office in June with a landslide victory—he received 16 million votes. Duterte has since been nicknamed the "Punisher," due to his punitive approach to the drug trade and drug offenders. During the election, Duterte promised that a new war on drugs would result in the deaths of at least 100,000 criminals.

Recently, Philippine police chief Ronald Dela Rosa testified before a congressional budget committee, claiming Duterte's witch hunt has so far claimed the lives of more than 2,400 people, including ten police officers. Of these numbers, more than 1,500 people had been killed by unknown attackers, which is likely to be a result of state-sanctioned vigilantism.

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have condemned the president's hardline approach and called for an end to the conflict.

In June, UN secretary General Ban Ki-moon also denounced Duterte's approach to drug crime, saying that extrajudicial killings were "illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms."

In response, Duterte called the secretary general a "son of a bitch" and threatened to leave the UN. "Take us out of your organization," Duterte said in a public announcement. "You have done nothing anyway."

As he promised back in his first State of the Nation address back in July, President Duterte "would not let up" in his campaign and called on the Philippine National Police to "triple its efforts."

"We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or [been] put behind bars or below the ground if they so wish," he said.

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