Duterte lashes out at Canada’s Trudeau as Trump ties warm

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Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during the opening session of the ASEAN and EU summit at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay, metro Manila

President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European officials over their criticism of alleged human rights abuses under the country’s drug war.

Duterte said Tuesday he wouldn’t explain his policies to foreigners. “I will answer the fisherman and the farmer and I will explain to them patiently why it is so, but I will never, never allow a foreigner to question why it is so,” he told reporters in an expletive-laden answer. “It is an insult.”

The Philippine leader was responding to a question about Trudeau’s decision to bring up thousands of extrajudicial killings and other abuses associated with his campaign against drugs. Trudeau was among a handful of world leaders who criticized the crackdown while in Manila to attend meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Duterte’s rebuke to Trudeau contrasted with his warm exchanges with  Donald Trump. The U.S. president, who has consistently praised Duterte and his campaign against drugs, sidestepped the issue in their own talks in Manila.

The Philippine leader has repeatedly unloaded on Western leaders who have criticized the drug war. He questioned his country’s security alliance with the U.S. and told former President Barack Obama he could “go to hell” after he called for the drug war to be fought “in a way that’s consistent with basic international norms.”

‘Personal and Official Insult’

Trudeau said Canada was obligated to discuss human rights concerns.

“I also mentioned human rights, the rule of law and specifically extrajudicial killings as being an issue that Canada is concerned with,” Trudeau told reporters in response to a question. “The president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange.”

Read more on Duterte’s deadly war on drugs

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern also told reporters that she would raise human rights during a meeting with Duterte scheduled to take place immediately after his news conference. “That number of deaths certainly requires investigations and oversight, at the very least,” Ardern said, according to a video posted on the Newshub site.

A transcript of the public portion of their meeting released by the Philippine side included no mention of the drug war or human rights issues.

Duterte also took a swipe at the European Union, with whom he has previously threatened to sever ties over its criticism of the drug war. Some members of the EU parliament are part of an international human rights group that has warned the Philippines that it faces United Nations and EU sanctions, if the killings don’t stop.

“I was the one who injected the topic. I made the intervention. I inserted the matter of extrajudicial killings,” Duterte said, when asked if human rights came up when he met European Council President Donald Tusk during Asean meetings. “You taught about democracy — and now your heart bleeds for criminals?”

While Canada does little trade with the Philippines — the two nations exchanged $1.5 billion in goods last year — Trudeau was in Manila seeking expanded ties with Asean. Trudeau, the first Canadian prime minister to participate in the summit, also expressed concern about the military crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority in Myanmar, another of Asean’s 10 members.

Duterte called Trudeau’s comments “a personal and official insult.”

“When you are a foreigner you do not know exactly what’s happening in this country,” he said. “You don’t even investigate.” — Bloomberg