Accessibility links

Breaking News

Philippines' Duterte to Obama: 'Go to Hell'


FILE - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao, Sept. 18, 2016.
FILE - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during a news conference in Davao, Sept. 18, 2016.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has again lashed out at Barack Obama, this time telling the U.S. president that he can "go to hell."

In a speech Tuesday, the Philippine leader also slammed the European Union, which he said could "choose purgatory, hell is filled up."

The comments were in response to Western criticism of Manila's anti-drug campaign that has killed more than 3,000 people in three months.

Since taking office at the end of June, Duterte has consistently painted the Western criticism as interference from colonial powers.

The comments come as Manila and Washington on Tuesday launched annual military exercises. Duterte has said the war games with the U.S. will be the last in his six-year term.

He vowed that "eventually I might, in my time, I will break up with America. I would rather go to Russia and to China."

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday that the U.S. had not received any request from Duterte or another Philippine official to change bilateral cooperation.

"This is an alliance that is robust and that benefits both of our countries,'' Earnest said. But, Earnest insisted the U.S. will "not hesitate" to raise concerns about extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, which he said were "entirely inconsistent" with universal values of human rights.

"We won't be silent in raising our significant concerns about these reports."

On Monday, a senior U.S. military official hinted that the United States cannot be sure its longtime military alliance with the Philippines will continue.

“[There are] a lot of questions — more questions than answers, I think, at this point," Admiral John Richardson, U.S. Navy Chief of Operations, told VOA's Mandarin Service. "It would be premature for me to speculate, so we are where we are right now, which is in a rock-solid alliance, and we'll see how that develops.”

No stranger to profanity

Duterte, the former mayor of Davao, has a reputation for hitting out at his critics with profanity-filled tirades.

Last month, hours before he was scheduled to meet the U.S. leader, Duterte called Obama the "son of a whore." The U.S. canceled the meeting.

Duterte was forced to apologize earlier this week after he compared his war on drugs to the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.

Duterte had said: "Hitler massacred three million Jews ... there's three million drug addicts. I'd be happy to slaughter them."

On Sunday, he acknowledged that the comments left a "bad taste" in many mouths, and apologized to the world's Jewish community.

But he said he will not apologize to the critics of his tough and often violent crackdown on suspected drug users, producers and sellers.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin Service.