President Barack Obama is planning to meet with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss comments Duterte made about killing journalists and drug users.
Duterte won the presidency in May of this year, and proceeded to encourage vigilante justice against drug users and dealers, whom he said were ruining the nation, UPI reports. He has openly suggested drug users may not be human.
Approximately 2,000 people have died since the renewed drug war began, and only about 900 of those deaths can be attributed directly to police action. The rest came about from action by ordinary citizens tired of drug infestations.
In response to criticism, Duterte has threatened to pull out of the United Nations, which he later said was a joke, and told other officials that what he does to save his country is none of their business. Besides, according to Duterte, even if they try, they won’t be able to take him alive. Before he took office, Duterte pledged that corrupt journalists would be killed.
“Just because you’re a journalist you are not exempted from assassination, if you’re a son of a bitch,” Duterte said.
In another incident, Duterte called the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg “gay” and a “son of a bitch” for apparently interfering in the local election by criticizing an off-color rape joke Duterte made.
“I am pissed with him,” Duterte said in early August. “He meddled during the election, giving statements here and there. He was not supposed to do that.”
The State Department subsequently summoned a Philippines official to explain Duterte’s insults.
Such statements worried the Obama administration and the U.N., which is part of the reason for Obama’s visit.
“We absolutely expect [Obama] will raise concerns about some of the recent statements from the president of the Philippines,” White House Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told reporters, according to UPI. “We regularly meet with the leaders of our treaty allies where we have differences, whether it relates to human rights practices or derogatory comments. We take the opportunity of those meetings to raise those issues directly. We take the opportunity of those meetings to raise those issues directly.”
The most recent example of outlandish statements from Duterte came Monday, when he told Sen. Leila de Lima to hang herself in shame. She has apparently been tied to the drug trade.
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