Duterte: Why not make it even with US?
BEIJING — President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-US rhetoric boomed louder here as he repaired ties with China, whose support he believed could help him fend off US “interference.”
Duterte, who was warmly welcomed by the Filipino community here like a rock star on Wednesday night, criticized the US’ stance on extra-judicial killings linked to his all-out war against drugs, the US interference in several countries in the Middle East and even lambasted the restrictive US policy on visa issuance for Filipinos.
He said he himself had not been able to secure a visa to the US when he first tried to come in as a tourist to visit his girlfriend when he was in college.
When he applied for a US visa at that time, Duterte recalled that the consul asked him: what if you decide to marry and stay there? “(I said) Mr. Consul, even if you offer me free missiles for a lifetime and even if you offer me $10,000 dollars, I’d still return to my country and be a Filipino,” he said. The anecdote was widely applauded by the audience.
“Pero sila anytime when they enter the Philippines visa free. Why?…Bakit hindi natin tablahin? (But they can come in anytime and enter the Philippines visa free. Why? Why don’t we make it even?” Duterte said, eliciting a mix of laughter and applause.
On the contrary, “China is very kind” for as long as one does not commit a crime, according to the President, who said 300,000 Filipinos have been staying in the mainland to work.
Duterte said he would not interfere if China were to impose the death penalty on those involved in drug trafficking. “Kasi doon sa akin, death penalty doon sa kalsada pa (In our place, death penalty is executed on the road),” he said.
The visiting president also lamented that right after the “Cold War,” Filipinos were fed with “lies” about China and how evil it was, thus inculcating the “red scare” among the people.
“Now I said, this has to stop because you have been abusing the courtesy of my country,” Duterte said of the US. So I’ll try to figure out a new foreign policy.”
On criticisms about extra-judicial killings, Duterte explained that Philippine policemen knew — without any reminder from him — that they could only kill if their own lives were in danger. His order to them has been to take criminals into custody of the law. “If they refuse and offer a violent resistance, thereby, putting yourself or your life in danger of being killed, kill them,” he said, describing his directive.
Duterte suggested that China could fill the void when it came to building and funding much-needed infrastructure. “No more American interference. No more American exercises,” he said.
“So it’s about time to say: good-bye my friend. Your stay in my country was for your own benefit. Do not tell us that you have provided us with education. We would have survived if there was no education in my country at that time. We would have invented one better than what they have given us,” he said.
Duterte also issued harsh words on the US’ killings in the Middle East.
“Even assuming it (extra-judicial killing in the Philippines) to be true, what is that compared to the shattered nations of the Middle East? Those which they bombed. At least here, it’s the criminals, drug addicts, drug lords who are being killed. Over there, they would bomb a hospital, a nursery. We pale in comparison with the atrocities.”
All in all, he said the Philippines has been suffering from corruption, criminality and drug trafficking.
He pledged to the overseas Filipinos to address these woes and also urged them to assert their rights, to curse and slap officials who would try to extort money from them. SFM
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