'How stupid can you get?’ Duterte blasts Canada over helicopter deal

21 Mar, 2018 16:24 / Updated 5 years ago

Outspoken Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has launched another tirade of abuse, this time aimed at Canada after it decided to stop a $233-million deal to send 16 helicopters to Manila.

In his address to the General Assembly of the League of the Municipalities of the Philippines, Duterte hit out against Canada’s decision after beginning his speech with a description of the various internal struggles his country is up against.

“My God, you Canadians, how stupid can you get? Our citizens are joining ISIS so we have every right to kill our citizens because we do not want to destroy the community with apathy.”

The Philippines has been struggling with Islamic extremism in recent years, with terrorist groups affiliated to ISIS operating in the country since 2014. Tensions between extremist groups and the government culminated with the so-called Marawi Siege, a five-month conflict that has cost thousands of lives.

Last month, Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne revealed that the deal with the Philippines would be placed under review after it emerged the helicopters might be used in operations by police and military that could violate human rights.

“You jerks,” Duterte continued, “[that’s why] we bought helicopters, because we want to use them and then you sell us something we can’t use anymore.”

The helicopters themselves are designed by a US company, Bell, but are manufactured in Canada. The model that the Philippines wants to purchase is the 412EPI, which the company advertises as being for commercial use.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to have been the target of a previous outburst in November last year. After a summit in Manila, Duterte criticised leaders for raising questions about his war on drugs, saying: “It’s a personal and official insult,” before adding, “I will not answer to any other bulls**t, especially foreigners. Lay off.”

Trudeau dismissed the idea that these comments related to him, however, saying that the meeting had been “a very cordial and positive exchange.”

The Philippines president makes no secret of his willingness to pursue strong policies when it comes to solving the country’s problems with drugs, terrorism and communist rebels.

Since coming to power in June 2016, Duterte has carved out a reputation for himself as one of Asia’s most outspoken and inflammatory leaders. Having previously made jokes about rape and described how he once threw a man from a helicopter, the president isn’t shy when it comes to giving an opinion – even when it involves other world leaders.

Back in 2016, Duterte appeared to be talking about President Obama when answering a question about how the US might react to extrajudicial killings in the Philippines. “You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a w****, I will insult you in that forum,” he said.

Obama isn’t the only US president to have been insulted by Duterte. While both were on the campaign trail, Duterte described Donald Trump as a “bigot” when asked about his views on immigration.

Going further back to November 2015, Pope Francis got the same colourful description as Obama from the Filipino strongman after his visit to Manila had caused heavy traffic in the city.

The targets of Duterte’s rants have not always been outside Asia. In August last year, Duterte was pretty frank in his description of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, when he called him a “fool” and a “son of a b*tch,” when discussing his actions during the stand-off with the US.