‘We won’t beg for it’: Philippines’ Duterte dares US, EU to withdraw aid
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday dared critics of his anti-drugs campaign – which include the United States and the European Union – to withdraw their aid from the Southeast Asian country.
“Go away. Bring your money to somewhere else. We will survive as a nation,” Duterte said in an address to policemen in the southern island of Mindanao, where he again justified his tough measures to stamp out the drug menace, calling it part of his country’s fight “for self-preservation”.
“I do not expect [US President Barack] Obama, I do not expect the EU to understand me. Do not understand me. And if you think it is high time for you guys to withdraw your assistance, go ahead. We will not beg for it,” the president said, stressing that the Philippines is not subservient to Western countries.
“Even if it gets difficult here, we will survive. I’ll be the first one to go hungry and I’ll be the first one to die of hunger,” he said, adding he will not compromise the dignity of the Filipinos.
According to the Philippines’ National Economic and Development Authority, the United States provided some US$1.15 billion in official development assistance to the Philippines in 2014, US$875.33 million in 2013 and US$852.18 million in 2012.
For its part, the European Union provided the Philippines US$174.55 million in 2014 and US$163.96 million in 2013.
Duterte has been on the offensive against the United States and the European Union after both criticised his methods in curbing the drug trade on the back of alleged extrajudicial killings by police, or at their behest, of drug suspects.
Since he assumed office on June 30 until Thursday morning, 1,390 drug suspects claimed by police to have fought back during legitimate operations have been killed. Police are also investigating the death of some 1,800 others, of whom some have seeming links to illegal drugs activity.
But despite the growing criticism, Duterte enjoys a high trust rating from Filipinos, according to a recent local poll.
In a survey by the Social Weather Station conducted September 24 to 27 among 1,200 respondents across the country, Duterte achieved a net satisfaction rating of 64 per cent, classified by the pollster as “very good”, the second highest category.
“The survey results reflect the continuing public’s confidence in his campaign against drugs, criminality, terrorism, and corruption,” Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said of the ratings.