Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte demanded on Wednesday the European Union show him respect worthy of a president, despite giving the bloc a one-finger gesture and a vulgar four-letter rebuke after its legislators expressed concern about his drug war.
Angered by last week’s call by the European parliament for restraint in his deadly 11-week crackdown, the former mayor of the southern city of Davao took aim for a second day at the European Union and said he did not deserve insults.
“Even the EU is scolding me,” Duterte said in a televised speech at an army base.
“When I was mayor, that was OK but it is different now because I am the president. Why would you insult me?”
He added: “It is as if I am your subordinate.”
After lambasting the United Nations, the United States and its president and Nobel laureate, Barack Obama, the EU is the latest high-profile recipient of a Duterte dressing-down that has become part of his appeal to millions of Filipinos.
Duterte swept to power in a May election promising an assault on the drugs trade and at least 3,800 people have been killed since he took office on June 30.
The European parliament appeared to strike a nerve when it issued a statement calling on his government to “put an end to the current wave of extrajudicial executions and killings”, while expressing concern about “extraordinarily high numbers killed during police operations”.
During a speech on Tuesday, Duterte hit out at the EU, using obscene language and gesture.
The European Union delegation in Manila issued a diplomatically worded statement from its ambassador but later retracted it, for reasons not explained, replacing it with another, saying “We don’t comment on comments”.
“The European Union and the Philippines enjoy good relations, and we will continue to discuss this issue, among many others, in our bilateral contacts,” it said in the revised statement.
Duterte said on Sunday he may have to extend the campaign against drugs into next year, having understated the depth of the problem.