Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte has told President Barack Obama “you can go to hell” in response to the US leader’s criticism of his deadly anti-drug campaign, suggesting that he may eventually decide to “break up with America”.
“Instead of helping us, the first to criticise is this State Department, so you can go to hell, Mr Obama, you can go to hell,” Duterte said in a speech on Tuesday.
His anti-drug crackdown has left more than an estimated 3 000 suspected drug dealers and pushers dead in just three months, alarming the United Nations, the EU, the US and human rights watchdogs.
In the speech before a local convention attended by officials and business executives, Duterte outlined his disappointments with the US, which has asked his government to stop the widespread killings and has questioned whether human rights are being violated.
He also described Washington as an unreliable ally, saying Filipino forces had not benefited from joint combat exercises with US troops.
US Embassy officials said Washington has not been formally notified by the Philippine government of any move to scrap other planned drills.
“Eventually I might, in my time, I will break up with America,” he said without elaborating. “I would rather go to Russia and to China.” ‘Hell is filled up’
He also lashed out anew at the European Union, saying the bloc, which has also criticised his brutal crackdown, “better choose purgatory, hell is filled up”.
Since becoming president in June, Duterte has had an uneasy relationship with the US and with Obama and has declared intentions to bolster relations with China and Russia as he revamps Philippine foreign policy that has long leaned on Washington.
During three tangential and fiercely worded speeches in Manila, Duterte said the US did not want to sell missiles and other weapons, but Russia and China had told him they could provide them easily.
“Although it may sound shit to you, it is my sacred duty to keep the integrity of this republic and the people healthy,” Duterte said.
“If you don’t want to sell arms, I’ll go to Russia. I sent the generals to Russia and Russia said ‘do not worry, we have everything you need, we’ll give it to you’.
“And as for China, they said ‘just come over and sign and everything will be delivered’.”
Last month, Obama cancelled a planned first meeting with Duterte on the sidelines of an Asian summit in Laos after the Filipino leader blurted “son of a bitch” in warning the US leader not to lecture him on human rights ahead of their meeting. Duterte later expressed regrets over his remarks.
Such a move by the Philippines would impede Washington’s plans to expand the footprint of US forces in Southeast Asia to counter China. – Al Jazeera