Philippines’ Duterte threatens to expel EU diplomats

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This photo taken on October 6, 2017, shows Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (C) inspecting the honour guard during the turn-over ceremony of the army's commanding general at Fort Bonifacio in Manila. Duterte's popularity has suffered a substantial drop for the first time, though it remains at a relatively high 67 percent, an independent pollster has found. / AFP PHOTO / TED ALJIBE

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened Thursday to expel European ambassadors, accusing their governments without citing evidence of plotting to get Manila expelled from the United Nations.

Duterte signalled in a fiery speech he would not tolerate European criticism of his drug war, which has seen police kill at least 3,850 people since he took office 15 months ago and led rights groups to warn of a potential crime against humanity.

Duterte accused the European Union of interfering in the Philippines’ domestic affairs, and alleged it wanted to get the Philippines expelled from the UN.

“Just like that you tell us: ‘You will be excluded in the UN’. Son of a whore go ahead,” Duterte told reporters, adding European nations were taking advantage of the Philippines being poor.

“You give us money then you start to orchestrate what things should be done and which should not happen in our country. You bullshit. We are past the colonisation stage. Don’t fuck with us.”

Duterte said he was prepared to kick European ambassadors out of the country if their governments tried to expel the Philippines.

“You think we are a bunch of morons here. You are the one. Now the ambassadors of those countries listening now, tell me, because we can have the diplomatic channel cut tomorrow. You leave my country in 24 hours, all, all of you.”

The EU has made no public comments about wanting to remove the Philippines from the United Nations.

However the EU parliament issued a resolution last year expressing concern over the “extraordinarily high numbers killed during police operations” in the drug war.

It urged Duterte to “put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings”.

A statement released by EU delegation to the Philippines on Thursday night in response to Duterte’s comments sought to emphasise bilateral co-operation, including at the UN.

“The EU and the Philippines work constructively and productively together in a close partnership in many contexts and areas, including, of course, in the UN context,” the statement said.

Duterte’s spokesman was unavailable to comment on why the president believed the EU was looking to remove the Philippines from the UN.

The president’s aides have previously cautioned journalists not to take all of Duterte’s remarks literally, and that some of his most controversial statements were merely “hyperbole” or “rhetoric”.

Duterte won elections last year after vowing to eradicate the illegal drug trade in six months, and vowing that 100,000 people would be killed in the process.

Many Filipinos continue to support the crackdown but a survey last month showed the first major drop in Duterte’s popularity.

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