After insult, U.S. and Clinton call for Duterte to show respect

admin   •   September 7, 2016   •   2882

Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao city, southern Philippines August 21, 2016. REUTERS/Lean Daval Jr/File Photo

 

(Note: paragraphs 1 and 9 contain language that may offend some readers)

By Arshad Mohammed and Jeff Mason

The U.S. State Department and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Tuesday stressed the need for ties with the Philippines to be based on mutual respect, after Manila’s new leader raised worries about the future of the key alliance by calling President Barack Obama a “son of a bitch.”

Despite U.S. dismay over Duterte’s remarks, though, current and former U.S. officials played down the impact, saying they did not expect any serious damage to ties at a time of high tensions over China’s extensive territorial claims in Asia.

The State Department said a planned first meeting between Obama and his counterpart Rodrigo Duterte on the sidelines of a regional summit in Laos on Tuesday was canceled because the tone of the Philippine leader’s rhetoric raised questions about the chances of productive talks.

“Words matter, and we want to see an atmosphere that is cordial and open to strong cooperation,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a regular news briefing in Washington.

Clinton, who as secretary of state was an architect of Obama’s policy of emphasizing the importance of the Asia Pacific to U.S. interests in the face of a rising China, said Obama was right to cancel the meeting.

“When the president of the Philippines insulted our president, it was appropriate and a very low-key way to say: sorry, no meeting,” she told reporters on her campaign plane.

“We have a lot of ties between the United States and the Philippines. And I think it’s very important that we have a relationship, but there has to be a certain level of respect that is expected on both sides,” Clinton said.

Duterte made the remark about Obama while explaining that he would not be lectured over extrajudicial killings in the war against drugs he has launched since taking two months ago and which has killed about 2,400 people.

He has previously called the pope a “son of a whore” and the U.S. ambassador a “gay son of whore.”

The Philippines voiced regret for Duterte’s comments after Obama canceled a formal bilateral meeting. The White House then said Obama might speak with Duterte informally.

“FEELING HIS WAY”

Duterte’s volatile nature threatens to complicate Washington’s ties with its closest ally in Southeast Asia as it tries to forge a united front in the region in response to China’s extensive claims in the strategic South China Sea.

The Philippines has been central in this effort due to an international court case it brought and won against Beijing.

In March, the United States and the Philippines agreed on five locations for U.S. military facilities in the country under a new security deal. The deal grants Washington increased military presence in its former colony through rotation of ships and planes for humanitarian and maritime security operations.

Asked about Duterte’s comments, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the defense relationship with the Philippines was a “strong” and “longstanding” one.

Speaking to reporters, Carter also described the Philippines’ new defense minister, Delfin Lorenzana, as someone who was “very knowledgeable about all the things that we do together.”

An official of the U.S. State Department said “government to government” relations with Manila remained strong.

“The areas that we believe we have robust, strong cooperation with them, we are not going to just simply throw that aside.”

The official noted that Duterte was new to national leadership having served as a city mayor.

“He is maybe feeling his way into the new job,” the official said.

Former U.S. officials said China would be pleased by the U.S.-Philippines friction.

“Time will tell whether President Duterte steps back from this episode and realizes he needs to recalibrate his choice of words in engaging U.S. leaders,” said Amy Searight, a former senior Pentagon official now at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.

Evan Medeiros, Obama’s former top Asia adviser and now a senior analyst at the Eurasia Group, saw the row as a “speed bump, not a road block” in U.S.-Philippines ties.

“It’s unfortunate, but doesn’t fundamentally derail the relationship,” he said.

(Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick and Patricia Zengerle in Washington and Phil Stewart in London; editing by Stuart Grudgings.)

Duterte calls on Filipinos to reflect on PH history, be everyday heroes

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte (PCOO/FILE PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday called on Filipinos to reflect on the history and be everyday heroes as the country marks the National Heroes’ Day.

In his message, Duterte urged Filipinos to reflect on the country’s history and honor the brave souls who “courageously fought for our freedom and the democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded.”

“The collective sacrifice of the country’s heroes “made it possible for us to enjoy the blessings of liberty and to continue strengthening this great nation that they have left behind,” he said.

“We recognize their heroism not only by erecting statues in their honor but by uplifting the welfare of the poor and marginalized for it is through our small deeds that their spirit of valor can live on,” he added.

The President also called on Filipinos to make our forebears proud of the triumphs as a people “by being everyday heroes who will reach out to those who are in need, especially to the ones who have been neglected by society.”

“I truly believe that every Filipino is a hero who can build on our vibrant legacy of fortitude and resilience,” he said.

“As we face the future together, I encourage everyone to embody solidarity and sustain our momentum towards positive change not only for ourselves, but for the succeeding generations as well,” he added.

The chief executive skipped the commemoration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday as he is “not feeling well,” according to Duterte’s former aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

He, however, assured that there is nothing to worry about the president’s health.

House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was tapped to represent the president in leading the National Heroes’ Day rites, according to Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.

‘Indisposed’ Duterte skips National Heroes’ Day celebration

Robie de Guzman   •   August 26, 2019

(R-L) President Rodrigo Duterte, House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go

According to Duterte’s former long-time aide and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the president was feeling out of sorts after studying and signing many documents and meeting with different personalities, including Moro National Liberation Front Founding Chairman Nur Misuari over the weekend.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte did notattend the commemoration of the National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Monday.

“He’s indisposed, 74 years old na po si Pangulo, kailangan niya ring magpahinga… Magkasama pa kaming kaninang madaling araw, mga four ng umaga,” Go told reporters.

(He’s indisposed. The President is already 74 years old, he needs rest. We were together until early this morning, around 4 a.m.)

Go, however, assured that there is nothing to worry about the president’s health.

Malacañang earlier said House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano was tapped to represent the chief executive at the National Heroes’ Day rites.

The Palace also said that by Monday afternoon, the president is set to visit the family of a soldier killed in a clash in Calbayog City, Samar.

Duterte earlier called on Filipinos to reflect on the country’s history and honor the brave souls who “courageously fought for our freedom and the democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded.”

READ: Duterte calls on Filipinos to reflect on PH history, be everyday heroes

He also urged the public to be “everyday heroes who will reach out to those who are in need, especially to the ones who have been neglected by society.” (RRD with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte to insist arbitral ruling to China: ‘Whether you like it or not’

Marje Pelayo   •   August 22, 2019

(L-R) President Rodrigo Duterte, Pag-asa Island and Chinese President Xi Jinping

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte maintained that he will raise the arbitral ruling that favors the Philippines in the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea when he visits China next week.

Duterte is scheduled to fly to China for a working visit from August 28 to September 3.

He will meet Chinese president Xi Jinping and talk about the Hague ruling, the code of conduct, as well as the proposed joint oil exploration in the West Philippine Sea.

“So whether you like it or not, would it make you happy or not, angry or otherwise. Sorry, but we have to talk the arbitral ruling, then what we get, if there is a start of the exploration and extraction of whatever there is in the bowels of the earth,” the President said during the inauguration of the 7.5 megawatt peak solar power project in the municipality of Odiongan, Tablas Island in Romblon on Wednesday (August 21).

“The proposal of 60-40 in our favor, would be a good start. I hope it would graduate to something like towards how do we solve the arbitral ruling peacefully,” he added.

The event was the President’s first public engagement after being out of the public eye for more than a week. – MNP (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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