Duterte tells Obama to ‘go to hell,’ prompts Trump comparison

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. © Lean Daval Jr
US officials suggest ignoring offensive remarks made by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who told US President Barack Obama to “go to hell” in his latest tirade, saying his rhetoric does not indicate a rift relations between the two allied nations.

“He is like Mr. Trump,” a senior Southeast Asian official told Reuters, referring to US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. “He craves attention, and the more he gets, the more outrageous he becomes. It is wisest to ignore him.”

Duterte, who was elected president on a promise to expand the controversial war on drugs he unleashed as mayor of Davao nationwide, has dismissed all criticism of his policies in unflattering terms. His latest outburst directed at Obama came on Tuesday, when the Philippine leader said that the US’ president and State Department and can “go to hell” if they don’t want to help him fight drugs.

“You cannot stop me, it is my sacred duty to keep the integrity of this Republic, and the people healthy,” Duterte declared, as cited by the local media.

He said earlier that Manila would distance itself from Washington, its former colonial master and long-time military ally, and seek cooperation with Moscow and Beijing. US officials say Duterte’s words have yet to translate into actual policies, citing an ongoing joint military drill that was launched despite the president’s threat to end such war games and oust US troops from his country.

“No one is really losing sleep over it,” a US defense official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

“It is all bluster,” another defense official said, adding that Duterte’s remarks “have not bled over into our world.”

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