Duterte in pugnacious mood as he flies to meet Obama at ASEAN Summit
“WHO is he (Obama)?” President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday exclaimed as a showdown loomed between him and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Laos this week..
Before he flew to the ASEAN Summit in Vientianne, Laos yesterday he minced no words in rejecting what he perceived was US meddling in purely Philippine affairs.
The pugnacious Philippine leader said he does not owe Obama any explanation regarding the issues of extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses hounding his three-month-old administration.
“The Philippines is not a vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States,” Duterte said in his press briefing in Davao City before leaving for Laos for the ASEAN Summit where he is expected to meet with Obama.
Duterte, who is being criticized for his bloody war against illegal drug syndicates, also hit unnamed columnists for acting like “lapdogs” of Obama and the US.
“I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Philippines. Wala akong pakialam sa kanya. Who is he?” Duterte said citing the US occupation of the Philippines before World War II.
Earlier White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that Obama will not pull any punches on human rights during his meeting Duterte.
Duterte previously said that Obama needs to listen to him and understand the illegal drug situation in the country first before discussing human rights issues during their bilateral meeting.
“I think the President is going to speak quite directly about our shared interests with the Philippines,’’ Earnest said.
“Both countries benefit from effective cooperation on a variety of issues, including maritime security. But the President is certainly not going to pull any punches in raising well-documented and relevant concerns when it comes to human rights.”
Duterte however has repeatedly said the Philippines will determine its own destiny without depending on the US.
‘‘I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. I don’t have any master except the Filipino. Nobody (else).”