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Duterte: No apologies for remarks on Goldberg

President Rodrigo Duterte (FILE PHOTO BY GERMELINA LACORTE/ INQUIRER MINDANAO)

President Rodrigo Duterte (FILE PHOTO BY GERMELINA LACORTE/ INQUIRER MINDANAO)

LABANGAN, Zamboanga del Sur – President Duterte refused to apologize for his tirade against US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, saying it was not becoming of the envoy to dip his fingers in internal issues such as the May 2016 elections.

“Just leave me with my broadsides (with him), they were true anyway,” the President said on Wednesday.

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Duterte called Goldberg “gay” (bakla) during his visit to a military camp in Cebu last week.

But Mr. Duterte said those remarks should not at all affect the Philippines’ relationship with the United States as he would turn to the US for the country’s defense needs.

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“I reiterate our strong alliance with America,” he said.

The President said it would be logical to turn to the US for defense commodities because of its long-standing military cooperation with the country.

The two countries inked the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, which has been heavily criticized by left-wing groups.

“I will not compromise the weaponry of the Armed Forces,” Duterte said.

The President’s spat with the US Ambassador started during the campaign period when Goldberg commented on the then candidate Duterte’s “joke” about the rape-slay of an Australian missionary in Davao City in 1989.  But beyond the joke, Goldberg suggested that the Filipino public elect for consistency and continuity of policies, which implied he was rooting for the candidates of the then incumbent president Benigno Aquino III.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. AFP FILE PHOTO

US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg. AFP FILE PHOTO

In response, the then presidential candidate challenged the US to cut its diplomatic ties with the Philippines, its former colony and a strategic ally in the Asia-Pacific region.

“You’re not a Filipino. Shut up. Do not interfere because it’s election time,” Mr. Duterte had told Goldberg then.

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The President said Goldberg should have not dipped his fingers in Philippine politics.

“It’s simply the truth. Why did he give those statements while the election is going on? That’s our business. It doesn’t concern him … It was during the campaign,” Duterte said in a mix of Bisaya and English in his speech before soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division here on Wednesday.

The President’s latest statements prompted the American government to summon Philippine Charge d’Affaires to Washington D.C. Patrick Chuasoto regarding the Chief Executive’s “inappropriate comments” against its ambassador to the Philippines.

“We’ve seen those inappropriate comments made about Ambassador Goldberg. He’s a multi-time ambassador, one of our most senior diplomats,” US State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said.  SFM

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