President Rodrigo Duterte has angrily turned down an invitation to an Asia-Europe summit in Brussels as he again lashed out at the EU and accused the bloc of insulting him over his deadly war on drugs.
The maverick leader labelled the 28-country European Union — the Philippines’ second most important trading partner — “stupid” and warned he would not stay silent in the face of Western condemnation of his anti-crime crackdown.
Europe has been vocal in its criticism of Duterte’s hallmark policy, which has left nearly 4,000 drug suspects dead and seen human rights groups claim he was responsible for a crime against humanity.
Duterte hit out after saying European Council President Donald Tusk had invited him to the biennial Asia-Europe meeting in October.
“I’ve been invited by the EU, that stupid organisation,” Duterte told government workers late Tuesday.
“I said, ‘For what? You thought of me as that kind of person then, so why change your assessment?’” He continued: “So you get to insult me? Don’t ever do that to me.”
Despite widespread criticism over alleged “extrajudicial killings” in the drugs war, Duterte has vowed to pursue the campaign until the end of his six-year term. The issue had risked threatening the duty-free privileges of billions of dollars in annual Philippine exports to the EU, but Brussels announced last month Manila will retain the trade perks.
The EU mission in Manila confirmed yesterday that Duterte had been “invited like other leaders from Asia and Europe” to the summit, but declined to comment on the president’s latest outburst.
Duterte said he was “not like other presidents” and would not take perceived slights in his stride, adding he also disliked travelling.
He recalled an invitation from President Donald Trump to visit the United States, which he said provoked a threat from American senators to protest if he stepped foot on US soil.
“I said, you know guys, you are too presumptuous. Whoever told you that I would visit your place? What is there to see?” he added.
Duterte has branded Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama a “son of a *****” for criticising his drugs campaign, but enjoys a better rapport with the current American leader who also has a reputation for being outspoken.
Trump declared at a Manila summit in November he had a “great relationship” with his Philippine counterpart. However, Duterte also said Tuesday he preferred not to visit places where he would be criticised as “sexist” for speaking out.
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