President Rodrigo Duterte said he would go to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit not as anyone’s “subservient lackey” but as a Philippine leader who was prepared to tell anybody, including US President Donald Trump, to “lay off” human rights issues in his country.
Mr. Duterte, who flew to Vietnam for the Apec Summit on Wednesday afternoon, is expected to finally meet Trump on Friday at the summit venue in the coastal city of Da Nang in central Vietnam.
Mr. Duterte and 20 other Apec leaders are meeting in Da Nang to discuss globalization and ensure that the recovery of the global economy continues.
Trump is headed to Manila next week for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit.
The United States, during the Obama administration, had been critical of the killings in Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, which earned it curses from the Philippine leader.
“I will not go there as a subservient lackey of anyone, including what you would like to hear from me, but which you cannot ask maybe, or later on, about human rights,” Mr. Duterte said.
Asked what he and Trump would talk about, Mr. Duterte said the Philippines was not beholden to anyone.
He said he intended to discuss trade, extremism or terrorism and the Philippines’ position vis-a-vis China.
“To all of these things, I would just say that we all hunger for peace and if we can talk about it in a very civilized manner, I would be glad to participate in the discussion,” Mr. Duterte said.
His spokesperson, Harry Roque, said Mr. Duterte’s controversial war on drugs would not be a cause of tension during his meeting with the US leader.
Roque, in an interview with CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour, cited parallels between the two world leaders.
Trump, he said, had also declared the opioid epidemic a crisis in the United States.
Roque pointed to Trump’s earlier statement to Mr. Duterte that he was doing the right thing in pursuing the war on drugs.
The two firebrand leaders had spoken on the phone shortly after Trump’s election to the US presidency, and seemed to have hit it off.
Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs, which has led to thousands of deaths, had been criticized by the Obama administration, which then got a slew of curses from the Philippine leader.
At one point, the President announced that he wanted an economic and military separation from the United States.
He has since softened his stance. On Tuesday, he said the Philippines and the United States were the “best of friends.”
Meeting with Putin
In Da Nang, Foreign Undersecretary Manuel A.J. Teehankee said the Philippine and US leaders would get a chance to interact at the Apec Business Advisory Council Dialogue on Friday.
He added that Mr. Duterte would hold bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang, and a pull-aside meeting with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
“[Mr. Duterte and Mr. Trump] will first have their first interaction when they as Apec leaders receive on Nov. 10 the Apec Business Advisory Council report to leaders. That’s in the afternoon of Nov. 10,” Teehankee said in press briefing.
The President arrived in Da Nang at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. He will attend the Apec CEO Summit today and keynote the “Regional Economic Integration-Lesson from Asean.”
He will join the Apec Business Advisory Council Dialogue on Friday and the Apec Economic Leaders’ Meeting on Saturday before returning home.
Mr. Duterte and Trump will have their “full” bilateral meeting when the American leader visits the Philippines for the Asean Summit next week.
Teehankee said Mr. Duterte wanted to thank Putin for his support in the fight against Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi.
They would also discuss trade and investment after Russia pledged to buy P2.5 billion worth of Philippine products, he said.