During a press conference this week, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte again inveighed against the US, capping his rant by directing one his most frequently used insults against the British journalist who questioned him.
“You did raise earlier the comparison with Latin America and narcostate,” Jonathan Miller, the Asia correspondent for the UK’s Channel 4, said to Duterte in the president’s hometown of Davao City in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.
“The narcostates of Latin America were, as you know, associated with the term ‘death squads’ too, and … in the five months since you became president, more people have actually been killed than died during the nine years of the Marcos dictatorship …” Miller asked, before Duterte started to answer.
The Philippine president then made several criticisms of the US, which he has frequently denounced.
“I could ask the same question. Why is America losing 40,000 lives [in] drug-related cases. What makes the Philippines different from America?” Duterte began his response, which you can see in full below, as recorded by The Philippine Star.
Duterte made several critiques of the US, including over the invasions of Panama and Iraq and its nonmembership in the International Criminal Court.
“They are invoking extra-judicial killings, calling upon the Human Rights Commission, and defining extra-judicial killings, which is in the charter of which he is not a signatory,” Duterte said. “Do you know that, that America is not a member? And yet they threaten leaders and presidents.”
Duterte then appeared to conclude his answer by uttering some familiar words – “putang ina mo,” which translate as “son of a bitch” or “son of a whore.”
The Philippine president has leveled that insult at several world leaders, including Pope Francis. His apparent use of it in reference to US President Barack Obama in September attracted international attention
In the Obama incident, a parsing of the whole comment suggests the phrase was not used as a direct insult to the US president, but rather as an obscene interjection or intensifier for Duterte’s response to the question he was asked at the time (or it may have been directed the questioner).
Whatever the case, Duterte expressed regret for his choice of words, and he and Obama seemed to make up somewhat a few days later at an Asian regional summit.
In this latest incident, the comment appears to have been directed at Miller, the British journalist, though there may have been some confusion on Duterte’s part.
“I think President Duterte may have wrongly assumed that I am an American and addressed his criticism of the US to me personally,” Miller told Forbes.
“He has deep-seated resentment – shared by many in his southern island of Mindanao – over the experience of US colonial repression a century ago,” he added.
“It’s a fairly standard Duterte-ism, reserved for foreigners who irritate him, but I find myself in distinguished company, with Pope Francis and President Obama,” Miller said to Forbes.
“For all his strongman alpha-male image, the President is acutely sensitive when it comes to perceived criticism of his policies – particularly by those he views as arrogant westerners who have no moral high ground from which to make judgements.”
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