Thu, Feb 08, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Duterte criticizes EU after rejecting summit invitation

AFP, MANILA

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has angrily turned down an invitation to an Asia-Europe summit in Brussels as he again lashed out at the EU and accused the bloc of insulting him over his deadly war on drugs.

The maverick leader labeled the 28-nation EU — the Philippines’ second-most important trading partner — “stupid” and warned he would not stay silent in the face of Western condemnation of his anti-crime crackdown.

Europe has been vocal in its criticism of Duterte’s hallmark policy, which has left nearly 4,000 drug suspects dead and seen human rights groups claim he was responsible for a crime against humanity.

Duterte hit out after saying European Council President Donald Tusk had invited him to the biennial Asia-Europe meeting in October.

“I’ve been invited by the EU, that stupid organization,” Duterte told government workers late on Tuesday. “I said: ‘For what? You thought of me as that kind of person then, so why change your assessment?’”

“So you get to insult me? I will use whore-speak on you too. Don’t ever do that to me,” he said.

Despite widespread criticism over alleged “extrajudicial killings” in the drugs war, Duterte has vowed to pursue the campaign until the end of his six-year term.

The issue had risked threatening the duty-free privileges of billions of US dollars in annual Philippine exports to the EU, but Brussels announced last month Manila would retain the trade perks.

The EU mission in Manila yesterday confirmed that Duterte had been “invited like other leaders from Asia and Europe” to the summit, but declined to comment on the president’s latest outburst.

Duterte said he was “not like other presidents” and would not take perceived slights in his stride, adding that he also disliked traveling.

He recalled an invitation from US President Donald Trump to visit the US, which he said provoked a threat from US senators to protest if he stepped foot on US soil.

“I said: ‘You know guys, you are too presumptuous. Whoever told you that I would visit your place? What is there to see?’” Duterte said.

Duterte has branded Trump’s predecessor, former US president Barack Obama, a “son of a whore” for criticizing his drugs campaign, but enjoys a better rapport with the current US leader, who also has a reputation for being outspoken.

Trump declared at a Manila summit in November last year that he had a “great relationship” with his Philippine counterpart.

However, Duterte also said on Tuesday he preferred not to visit places where he would be criticized as being “sexist” for speaking out.

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