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Duterte Tells Obama 'Go to Hell' and Turns to Russia, China

  • Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (C) clenches fist with members of the Philippine Army during a visit to the army headquarters.

    Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (C) clenches fist with members of the Philippine Army during a visit to the army headquarters. | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 October 2016

The latest comments from the firebrand president signal intent to “break up with America” and forge independent alliances for the Philippines.

Again articulating a fiery brand of nationalism that has quickly become a hallmark of his three months in office, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Tuesday told U.S. President Barack Obama to “go to hell,” adding that the country could circumvent an arms embargo by buying munitions from Russia and China. 

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In public remarks, Duterte lashed out again at Western nations critical of Duterte's violent crackdown on the local drug trade but have refused to help the Philippines tackle its drug woes. 

“Instead of helping us, the first to hit was the State Department. So you can go to hell, Mr. Obama, you can go to hell.” 

While Duterte was widely misinterpreted to have called Obama a “son-of-a-whore” in September, he has been profane, even belligerent, in denouncing the old Western colonial powers. To even a casual observer, it seems clear that Duterte is trying to distance his country from the U.S., especially, and strengthen the Phillippines' alliances with Russia, China and other regional powers.   

“EU, better choose purgatory," he said Tuesday. "Hell is full already. Why should I be afraid of you?,” Duterte said during the televised speeches on Tuesday.

The Obama Administration recently announced that it would discontinue weapon sales to the state, in part because of Duterte's crackdown on drug trafficking, which has left nearly 3,000 Filipinos dead in his three months in office. Duterte said he would simply buy weaponry from Russian and China. 

“I am very emotional because America has certainly failed us . . . This is what happens now, I will be reconfiguring my foreign policy. Eventually, I will break up with America,” though he did not offer more detail. 

On Sunday, Duterte said that a Chinese official suggested that the Philippines align themselves with China, as the U.S. would not be willing to help his country. “Tomorrow, Putin and Xi Jinping will be my close friends,” Duterte said according to the PhilStar.

In the same public address, Duterte said that he had complained to Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev about the U.S. in a private meeting last month.

"I told him this is the situation: They are giving me a hard time, they are disrespecting me, they are shameless."

He said: 'That is really how the Americans are.' He said: We will help you.'"

U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General John Jansen (L) with Commandant of Philippine Marine Corps, Major General Andre Costales Jr (C), salute in front of the Philippines-US flags during the opening ceremony of annual Philippines-US amphibious landing exercise, Oct. 4, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Duterte's latest remarks come as joint military exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines begin today. Duterte last week announced the exercises would soon cease, leading authorities from both countries to seek clarification over the comments. Duterte had previously threatened to oust U.S. forces located in the Southern Philippines.

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Duterte has also spoken of ending the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, EDCA, which allows U.S. access to military bases in the Philippines. U.S. officials, however, downplayed the comments, insisting that two countries maintain a strong alliance.

And despite the Permanent Court of Arbitration upholding Philippine claims against China in the South China Sea, Duterte has made every effort to mend fences with their traditional rival. 

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