default_eblnews.jpg

The Philippines’ new president Rodrigo Duterte has admitted he is rude, often erupting in expletive-laced comments that could hurt diplomatic relations.

Just days after the official election results in May, he launched into an unprovoked attack against the United Nations amid criticism that his policies could violate international human rights conventions.

“You son of a bitch, UN, you can’t even solve the Middle East carnage, couldn’t even lift a finger in Africa. Shut up, all of you,” he said.

“I never signed anything that said I have to behave,” he added.

Before he was elected president, Duterte cursed at Pope Francis for causing heavy traffic in Manila during his visit in 2015. He later apologized after a public uproar.

He also challenged the United States and Australia to sever ties with the Philippines after the ambassadors of the two countries criticized him for joking about the gang rape of an Australian missionary during a jail siege in Davao City in 1989.

During another press conference, he whistled at a female reporter who was asking him a question. and then he suddenly started singing a Filipino love song.

When called out for the cat-calling, Duterte said there was nothing sexual about his whistling and that he was merely exasperated by the question.

“You can’t stop me, that’s my freedom of expression,” he said. 

While stressing he will never change his “style, character and identity,” the 71-year-old mayor of the southern city of Davao also promised a metamorphosis, and analysts believe he will not be as careless when his term starts.

“I’m really a rude person. I’m enjoying my time as a rude person. I am not yet president,” Duterte said.

“But when I become president, when I take my oath of office, if you want, I can be more in keeping with the dignity of the office,” he said. “I will tone down my cursing. That will be past. It’s gonna be history.”

Aries Arugay, a political science professor at the University of the Philippines, said much concern raised by foreign officials about Duterte arises from the fact that the new president is virtually unknown internationally.

“The international community of nations doesn’t really know him,” he said. “And because he is not known, there is room to define your reputation and your image internationally.”

“At the end of the day, Duterte is still Filipino and all Filipinos are very charismatic to foreigners,” he added.

Duterte’s experience in public service was limited to local politics, being a seven-term mayor of Davao City, which once was infested with rebels and ridden with crime.

Since he became mayor, then congressman, and mayor again starting in 1986, Duterte transformed the city into one of the most peaceful and progressive in the country.

But that transformation came at a price, as human rights advocates accused Duterte of sanctioning the killings of criminals in the city. The mayor did not deny the accusations and instead dared his accusers to haul him to court.

Duterte has called on Congress to restore the death penalty in the Philippines, and ordered police to shoot to kill suspected criminals who resist arrest as part of his anti-crime campaign.

He said the executions should be done by hanging, and criminals convicted of murder with robbery and rape should be meted “double the hanging.”

“After the first hanging, there will be another ceremony for the second time until the head is completely severed from the body,” he said.

Arugay said Duterte might eventually have problems defending his human rights record before the international community, especially among members of the European Union.

“We have not really heard a categorical statement from him that he will defend human rights,” he said. “This is a problem particularly since the EU is very strict on this.”

Arugay said that since Duterte is pragmatic and practical, there would be “duality” in his leadership personality.

“He will really be controversial, that is the nature of the animal we have,” he said. “But Duterte the decision maker will be different from Duterte the talker.”

Duterte has appeared to be soft on China and tough on the US, amid the Philippines’ arbitration case against Beijing over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

But Arugay said Duterte is aware that there is very little room to manoeuvre with the country’s foreign policies because national interests do not change.

“When there are foreign policy changes, it’s only the methods or the means but the interests are the same,” he said.

Arugay said that although the new president might have appeared cold to the US, he appointed a defence secretary who was once the Philippines’ defence attache to Washington.

“That signals he has not forgotten how important the US is by appointing someone who is very close to the US,” he said. “And yet, you will see his press releases that he is a bit anti-US.”

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.