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Monday , December 6 2021

To Obama: ‘Go to hell’ – Duterte could cut US ties

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his speech at the Beit Yaacov Synagogue, The Jewish Association of the Philippines in Makati, south of Manila on Oct 4.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his speech at the Beit Yaacov Synagogue, The Jewish Association of the Philippines in Makati, south of Manila on Oct 4.

MANILA, Oct 5, (Agencies): Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday told US President Barack Obama to “go to hell” and said the United States had refused to sell some weapons to his country but he did not care because Russia and China were willing suppliers. In his latest salvo, Duterte said he was realigning his foreign policy because the United States had failed the Philippines and added that at some point, “I will break up with America”. It was not clear what he meant by “break up”.

During three tangential and fiercely worded speeches in Manila, Duterte said the United States 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’.”

His comments were the latest in a near-daily barrage of hostility towards the United States, during which Duterte has started to contrast the former colonial power with its geopolitical rivals Russia and China. In Washington, US officials downplayed Duterte’s comments, saying they were “at odds” with the two countries’ warm relationship and decades-long alliance. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said there has been no communication from the Philippines about making changes in that relationship.

Criticism
Earnest did not, however, back down from criticism of Duterte’s tactics in his deadly war on drugs. “Even as we protect the strong alliance, the administration and the United States of America will not hesitate to raise our concerns about extra-judicial killings,” he said at a briefing.

On Sunday, Duterte said he had received support from Russia and China when he complained to them about the United States. He also said he would review a US-Philippines Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement.

The deal, signed in 2014, grants US troops some access to Philippine bases, and allows them to set up storage facilities for maritime security and humanitarian and disaster response operations. Duterte said the United States should have supported the Philippines in tackling its chronic drugs problems but that instead it had criticised him for the high death toll, as did the European Union.

Furthermore, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte would face major obstacles to following through on his threat to reduce purchases of US weapons in favor of Russian and Chinese arms, including re-training a military deeply accustomed to working with the United States, experts said on Tuesday.

Missiles
Duterte said in speeches in Manila on Tuesday that the United States did not want to sell missiles and other weapons to the Philippines, but that Russia and China had told him they could provide them easily. His comments were the latest in a near-daily barrage of hostility toward the United States that has raised questions about the long-standing alliance that is important to the US strategy of rebalancing its forces toward Asia and countering an assertive China.

Angered by US expressions of concern over his war on drugs, Duterte has called President Barack Obama a “son of a bitch,” threatened to call off joint military exercises with Washington and started to contrast the former colonial power with its geopolitical rivals Russia and China. US officials have downplayed Duterte’s remarks, focusing instead on the decades-long alliance which they have sought to bolster in recent years in response to China’s moves to enforce its claims over the South China Sea.

The White House said on Tuesday the United States had not received any formal communications from Duterte’s government about changing the relationship. The United States is the single largest provider of arms to the Philippines, according to figures maintained by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which tracks military expenditures globally.

The two countries have become more intertwined militarily in the last two years, holding more exercises and training, and making more US ship and aircraft visits under President Barack Obama’s shift of US military forces and diplomatic efforts toward Asia in the face of China’s rise.

The Philippines is the largest recipient of US funds in the Asia- Pacific region under the Foreign Military Financing program, which is provided by the United States to help countries purchase American-made weapons and equipment. It received $50 million under FMF in the 2015 fiscal year.

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