Duterte unapologetic about anti-EU rant

Christina Mendez - The Philippine Star
Duterte unapologetic about anti-EU rant

In a speech in Dumaguete City, President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at the EU for doing nothing about the visit to the country of some members of the Progressive Alliance and Party of European Socialists. PPD/Toto Lozano, File

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte was unapologetic over his remarks against the European Union a day after he threatened to ask EU ambassadors to leave the country for undermining the sovereignty of the Philippines by making public their concerns on his drug war.

In a speech in Dumaguete City, Duterte lashed out at the EU for doing nothing about the visit to the country of some members of the Progressive Alliance and Party of European Socialists. 

The seven-member group criticized the administration’s war on drugs due to thousands of killings.

Duterte faulted the ambassador of the EU Delegation in the Philippines for being silent about the socialist visitors.

“You know what? Johnny-come-lately, here comes the ambassador of EU to the Philippines disclaiming, ‘They are not part of the EU.’ Why did you not say that immediately? You kept your silence while they were yakking here,” he added.

In an interview over state-run PTV-4, Duterte reiterated his call to the EU not to meddle with local affairs, saying: “Do not impose on us, do not threaten us. Do not even reprimand us. If you can say 10 things bad in the Philippines, I can say more things about you.” 

Duterte expressed displeasure at how some countries are “discourteous” towards the Philippines, referring to the US and the EU.

He added that he is not afraid of the threat to remove the Philippines from the UN.

“Go ahead and try to delist us from our membership. Go ahead so the people will know how stupid you are.  If you come here, I will slap you. If you are expelled in the UN, it will be a big issue,” he said.

At the same time, he called an official of the Human Rights Watch as “stupid” and “ignoramus” for saying that the Philippines’ inaction on human rights can lead to its expulsion from the UN Human Rights Council, actually a sub-body. 

He doubts whether the Philippines will be expelled, noting that he has allied with China and Russia who are permanent members of the UN Security Council, and as such, they have voting rights.   

But his government’s top officials yesterday scrambled to soften the impact of the Chief Executive’s tirades against the EU.

Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez and presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told a regular briefing in Malacañang yesterday that there are efforts to reach out to the EU mission and explain the context of the President’s latest statements.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, in a separate interview, also stressed the need to take Duterte’s statements in its proper context. 

“EU ambassadors should know that (it) is not (an) order to leave. Such a thing would have to come from the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). And I am sure no such order is forthcoming,” Pimentel told reporters.

Abella said the President is “aware of the nuances.”

“And I suppose there are other venues in which he’ll be able to express that more clearly, especially referring more clearly to that particular group,” Abella said.

In defending the President, he said Duterte was not misled or misinformed and was only reacting according to what he was reading in the news.

“It’s not a question of being misinformed… Basically, it’s a lesson (on) the need for critical reporting and reading of the news… The President reacted as any leader would when national sovereignty is violated. So, we call upon… the media to heed his request too for correct reportage,” the Palace official added.

Abella banked on the European mission’s statement that it has no involvement in the visit of the seven-member delegation of the International Delegates of the Progressive Alliance, adding that it has falsely portrayed itself as an EU mission. – With Paolo Romero, Helen Flores


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