After Rodrigo Duterte‘s speech on Monday, the White House canceled President Obama’s meeting with the Philippine president in Laos on Tuesday.
The White House had announced that Barack Obama would discuss with Duterte his handling of penal abuses, as he has sponsored an extraordinary amount of executions without submitting the accused to trial. Obama was set to confront Duterte at the East Asia Summit. The White House specifically referred to the fact that almost 2,000 people have been killed during Duterte’s rule, starting on June 30, of which nearly half had relationships with drug trafficking.
“We will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars — or below the ground, if they so wish,” Duterte stated back in July.
A “son of a bitch”
President Obama has not met with Duterte as of yet, but the credit is Duterte’s as he has been recognized as a bad-mouthed bully that does not hesitate when it comes to insulting others, especially people that act on behalf of the U.S. government.
Duterte told Secretary of State John Kerry that the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines was “a gay son of a bitch,” and also scoffed claiming that just because a person is a journalist, it is “not exempted from assassination, if you’re still a son of a bitch.”
The statement that appeared to go overboard was the following, issued by the Philippine president on Monday:
“Who does he think he is? I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people. Son of a bitch, I will swear at you.”
Duterte has previously claimed that he will not limit the use of force to capture or destroy every drug lord and pusher in the Philippines.
Besides his authoritative rule in drug trafficking penalties, Obama and Duterte were supposed to discuss the delicate maritime disputes that have developed in the South China Sea, where China lays claim to sea territory with artificial isles.
The disputed territory belongs to the Philippines, Vietnam, and Japan, but the isles deployed by China already have military equipment, which could pose a threat for incoming trade shipments.
Duterte has also faced complaints coming from women’s rights groups, as he apparently disrespects women as he pronounces his speeches. The most known event was his mocking of the rape of Australian missionary Jackeline Hamill, although he has already apologized for the remark.
Full-fledged war on crime
The Philippine president made war on crime one of his main proposals during the campaign. Duterte has repeatedly disregarded any intention of being merciful to criminals, encouraging police and civilians to kill criminals without hesitation.
One of the most gruesome episodes was the killing of Michael Siaron, who was shot on the street and a sign reading “I’m a pusher” was set next to him. A photograph captured the criminal and his partner Jennilyn Olayres, who is holding him as she mourns for Michael’s passing.
Duterte has fiercely condemned criminals, warning that there is no one that will save them from their fate, not even religious groups or NGO’s.
Critics highlight that there is a lack of process in Duterte’s war on crime, but that does not seem to make any effect on the Philippine leader’s efforts to instill fear in criminals, even if the objective is to eradicate crime.
NGO spokespeople compared Duterte’s rule to the martial law period in the Philippines back in 1972, which lasted until 1981, signed by President Ferdinand Marcos.
How Duterte deals with criminals
71-year-old Duterte started his nationwide war on drugs on August 7 when he revealed that hundreds of government politicians were involved in drug trade. He reimposed the death sentence and tried to anoint hanging as the main method of execution.
Duterte then openly asked armed groups and civilians to “disarm and arrest” drug traffickers. The Philippine president continued revealing the names of public figures, including police officers, involved in illicit drug trade.
Duterte then presented a chart that showed the distribution of the main drug syndicates distributed in the Philippines, which obtain most of their products from continental China. At least 23 mayors of Philippine districts were present in the chart.
Although the killings have been praised by some due to the mass reduction of drug trafficking agents, militant groups, senators and judges have prompted Duterte to cease extra-judicial killings and to offer a fair trial to those accused of drug trafficking.
For his ruthless approach to crime, Duterte has been called “The Punisher” by Time magazine, while receiving pronounced critique from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International for sponsoring vigilante groups.
Duterte has already stated that, in his opinion, summary execution of criminals is the most efficient way of reducing drug traffic and kidnappings. While he was the mayor of Davao, Duterte openly admitted that anyone incurring in criminal activity within his jurisdiction was a “legitimate target of assassination.”
Duterte also admitted taking a part in the extra-judicial killing of criminals, but in response, he promised that he would kill more than a hundred thousand criminals during his presidential term.