MANILA, Oct. 4 (UPI) — Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at U.S. President Barack Obama as the two nations began annual joint military drills, saying Obama can “go to hell.”
Duterte renewed his anger at worldwide criticism of the Philippines’ anti-drug campaign that has killed more than 3,000 people in three months.
In a speech in Makati City, the Philippine leader also slammed the European Union, saying, “EU, better choose purgatory. Hell is full already. Why should I be afraid of you?” he said.
About Obama, he said, “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,” he said.
Duterte has said the Philippines, a former U.S. territory, might cut ties with the United States.
“I lost my respect for the America. Instead of helping us, [they keep criticizing my administration],” Duterte said. “I don’t believe Americans. They will not fight for us.”
The comments come as Manila and Washington launched their annual military exercises. The new president said the war games will be the last in his six-year term.
Duterte wants to reduce the Philippines’ longstanding military cooperation with the United States, and prefers closer ties to Russia and China.
More than 1,000 U.S. personnel were participating in the exercises with hundreds of Filipino troops.
Last week, Duterte said he was “serving notice now to the Americans” that he would establish new alliances for trade and commerce.
But Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. said Duterte meant only drills in the South China Sea would stop to improve economic relations with China.
Duterte has been saying conflicting things about the Philippines relationship with the United States.
First, he announced U.S. troops would be expelled from the base in Mindanao, where they have been helping combat insurgents.
Later, he moderated his tone.
“I never said get out of the Philippines, for after all, we need them [the U.S.] there in the China Sea. We don’t have armaments,” Duterte said two weeks ago.
But Duterte said he wants to end to joint patrols with the United States in disputed waters.
“I do not want my country to be involved in a hostile act,” he said on Sept. 13.
His latest broadside against the United States came in a speech before a local convention attended by officials and business executives.
Duterte again outlined his disappointments with the United States, which has asked his government to stop the widespread killings under his anti-drug campaign.
Last month, the White House canceled a planned meeting between Obama and Duterte after the Philippine president called Obama the “son of a whore.”