“’We will be there if you need us,’” Duterte said on Tuesday, recalling a conversation with the Chinese president. “The assurances of Xi Jinping were very encouraging. Eh, they are there.”
“’We will not allow you to be taken out from your office, and we will not allow the Philippines to go to the dogs,’” he said, paraphrasing Xi.
In the Philippines, the president serves a single six-year term without possibility of re-election. Duterte, who was sworn in as the 16th president on June 30, 2016, previously warned that he could declare a revolutionary government if criticism of his rule escalates into a full-scale plot to oust him. Last month, he even joked that the CIA might want to assassinate him over Manila’s decision to get weapons from China and Russia.
The Philippines repeatedly asked Washington for modern weapons to combat Islamic State-linked (IS, formerly ISIS) militants. The US, however, refuses to sell weapons to its former colony, citing “concerns” about the country’s human rights record amid the ongoing war on drugs.
“You do not buy your arms from one source only, because if you do that you become a colony of your supplier… You are reduced to a vassal,” Duterte explained, referring to the US.
The sharp-tongued leader has made an independent foreign policy a signature of his presidency, and with China’s apparent backing, Duterte feels more confident tackling security issues facing his country.
“China said ‘We will be there.’ I’m not sure with the Americans because the Americans have lost their will to fight,” he said in a mixture of Filipino and English. “They only have weaponry, cruise missile, maybe they also have a supersonic thing, but the boots on the ground, the ones who will go there to fight, America is scared.”
“They are deathly afraid of death and they do not want to. They only know human rights… that’s why they are deteriorating,” the 73-year-old leader added, explaining that US soldiers cannot stand “hardships” and can’t operate outside of “air-conditioned rooms.”
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