Rodrigo Duterte, the newly elected populist president of the Philippines, has been turning heads and shocking the establishment through his candidate commentary in which he thumbs his nose at the West while he takes a tough line to clean up the terrible crime and corruption that has been plaguing his island country.
By John Friend
President Rodrigo Duterte, the bombastic and outspoken president of the Philippines, vowed last Friday to cancel future military exercises conducted with U.S. troops on Filipino soil, and pledged this year’s annual drills would be the last as long as he’s president.
The joint patrols of the South China Sea conducted by U.S. and Filipino troops have been placed on hold while negotiations take place. Over 100 U.S. military personnel operate in the Philippines, who focus primarily on monitoring Islamic militants.
According to reports, Duterte vowed that “this year would be the last” for the joint U.S.-Philippines military drills and patrols. Duterte has been particularly critical of U.S. and European foreign policy and meddling in the Philippines and other less powerful nations. He recently dared the U.S. and European Union to withdraw their financial aid from the poverty-stricken island nation.
“If you think it’s high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead,” Duterte defiantly declared late last week. “We will not beg for it.”
The controversial Filipino president has even publicly called U.S. president Barack Obama a “son of a [expletive deleted]” and recently told him to “go to hell.”
“For as long as I am there, do not treat us like a doormat because you’ll be sorry for it,” Duterte told reporters on Friday, referring to his U.S. counterparts. “I will not speak with you. I can always go to China.”
U.S. State Department officials are apparently unaware of any possible revocation of joint U.S.-Filipino military drills and patrols, and have received no official notification from Filipino officials.
John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, reacted critically to Duterte’s latest comments.
“We think comments like this, whether they are or will be backed up by actual action or not, are really at odds with the closeness of the relationships that we have with the people of the Philippines and which we fully intend to continue,” Kirby told reporters.
Duterte’s latest comments should come as no surprise to anyone following the controversial leader of the Philippines. Duterte, who previously served as mayor of Davao before winning the presidential election this summer, has a long track record of making unabashed and contentious statements.
The populist president campaigned on cleaning up the Philippines and cracking down on drug traffickers and abusers, policies he effectively—and violently—pursued as mayor of Davao. Since taking office, countless drug dealers and abusers have been killed or arrested, which has drawn the ire of international human rights activists, the United Nations, and other globalists.
“Do the lives of 10 of these criminals really matter?” Duterte has asked. “If I am the one facing all this grief, would 100 lives of these idiots mean anything to me?”
The Philippines has long had a major drug problem, and Duterte has explicitly stated he aims to crack down on and solve the drug epidemic plaguing his nation.
“Forget the laws on human rights. If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because I’d kill you,” Duterte boldly stated while running for president. “I’ll dump all of you into Manila Bay, and fatten all the fish there.”
In comments that sparked international outrage, Duterte invoked Adolf Hitler and the alleged Jewish “Holocaust” while discussing the Philippines’ drug problem.
“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews,” Duterte stated. “Now, there are 3 million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
Time will tell what controversial remark the populist Filipino president will make next. In an age of stifling political correctness, Duterte’s unabashed conduct and leadership style are a refreshing development for observers of international politics.
John Friend is a writer and radio show host and lives in California.