Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte attacked Canada’s Justin Trudeau at the end of a summit of Asian and Western nations for raising questions about his war on drugs, a topic skirted by other leaders, including US President Donald Trump.
At the traditional news conference by the host nation at the end of the summit on Tuesday (14/11), Duterte was asked how he had responded to the Canadian prime minister raising the issue of human rights and extra-judicial killings in his anti-drugs drive.
“I said I will not explain. It is a personal and official insult,” the Philippines president said in the course of a rambling answer, although he did not refer to Trudeau by name.
“I only answer to the Filipino. I will not answer to any other bullshit, especially foreigners. Lay off.”
Earlier in the day, Trudeau told a news conference that during his meeting with Duterte “the president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange”.
Human rights activists had been hoping that leaders at the summit, including Trump, would raise the issue of the thousands of users and small-time pushers killed in the campaign that was launched by Duterte after he took office in mid-2016.
His government says the police act in self-defense during drug-busts, but critics say executions are taking place with no accountability.
There was no pressure from Trump on the drugs war when he met Duterte on Monday and the U.S. president later said the two had a “great relationship”.
A joint statement after the meeting only said the two sides “underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs.”
Duterte cursed Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, last year for raising concerns about the war on drugs and he subsequently declared that he was breaking ties with the United States, a close ally of the Philippines since World War Two. The relationship appears to have got back on track after the bonhomie between him and Trump.
Trudeau also said that he raised the issue of the exodus of Rohingya during a meeting with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, another sensitive topic bypassed by most other leaders, although he did not mention the Muslim minority by name.
“This is a tremendous concern to Canada and to many, many countries around the world,” he said.