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Duterte swears to never visit 'lousy' America

July 21, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte has responded angrily to US lawmakers opposed to the prospect of him visiting the White House. The firebrand leader says they needn't worry because he would never visit "lousy" America anyway.

Rodrigo Duterte speaking into a microphone
Image: Reuters/L. Daval Jr

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made the declaration Friday after a US Congress hearing about human rights violations committed under his deadly anti-drug campaign.

"There will never be a time during my term when I will be going to America or thereafter," he told reporters.

"I've seen America and it's lousy… it would be good for the US Congress to start with their own investigation of their own violations of the so many civilians killed in the prosecution of the wars in the Middle East," he added.

Massachusetts Congressman James McGovern said Duterte should never have been invited and threatened to lead protests should the Philippine leader decide to visit.

"What makes that guy think I will go to America?" Duterte responded Friday.

Since entering office a year ago, Duterte has been open about his plans to distance his country from its main defense ally, the United States. He once called former US President Barack Obama a "son of a whore" but has been more amenable towards his successor Donald Trump.

'Tantamount to crimes against humanity'

Thousands of Filipinos have been killed since Duterte launched his war on drugs a year ago. The campaign has drawn international condemnation from human rights groups, as well as from the European Union and the Obama administration.

Soon after entering office, Trump phoned Duterte, told him he was doing "an unbelieveable job on the drug problem," and invited him to the White House - a move that attracted heavy criticism at the time.

Philippines: Addicts and Withdrawal

Duterte has vowed to continue with his crackdown on drugs, despite accusations by human rights groups that the wave of killings amount to crimes against humanity.

Police say at least 3,200 people have been killed in anti-drug operations. But Misa Concepcion, communications manager of advocacy group iDefend, told the US Congress hearing in Washington that about 7,000 people had been killed by police and vigilantes under Duterte.

"We have the basis to claim that what is actually happening is tantamount to crimes against humanity," she told Agence France Presse.

nm/rt (Reuters, AFP)