Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insulted him by expressing concern about the Philippines’ drug war during the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.
While he heaped praise on fellow Southeast Asian leaders and other partners, including U.S. President Donald Trump, Duterte on Tuesday lashed out when asked about Trudeau’s statement earlier in the day.
“I said I will not explain. It is a personal insult,” Duterte said late Tuesday, shortly after he turned over ASEAN chairmanship to Singapore.
Duterte said foreigners had no business telling his government what was happening in his country.
The country’s drug war, which rights group said has resulted in more than 12,000 deaths since Duterte came to power last year, has come to define his presidency. The crackdown has not spared teens, including three who were among 100 killed in a series of raids in August.
The politically influential Catholic Church, rights groups and activists have taken to the streets to protest the killings, forcing Duterte to reign in the police force.
While admitting Canada is not perfect, Trudeau said he would not shirk from his responsibility to call other countries’ attention to abuses and “talking about human rights is an essential part of a path forward.”
“It had to be done in an honest and frank way, but it has to be done,” Trudeau said. “We have to talk about the high expectations we must have to protect life, to uphold the rule of law and human rights.”
He said Canada was prepared to offer support to the Philippines in terms of human rights.
“As I mentioned to President Duterte, we are concerned with human rights, with EJKs (extra judicial killings) and I impressed upon him the need for respect of rule of law,” he said.
Trudeau said Duterte appeared to be receptive when he explained his view, describing their meeting as cordial.
Meanwhile, Trump aides said he did not speak about the killings when he met with Duterte on Monday. A joint statement issued by the White House later said the leaders “underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda.”
Duterte gives no explanation
Speaking to reporters late Tuesday, Duterte said he never offered an explanation, especially to foreigners such as Trudeau.
“I only answer to the people of the Republic of the Philippines,” Duterte said, emphasizing that other countries and organizations, including the European Union, have claimed extrajudicial killings without first investigating.
He accused those that were claiming rights abuses as falsifying records, even as the killings have been documented by the Philippine media.
He said none of the leaders at the summit mentioned the drug war.
“No one was ready to ask, either privately or publicly,” Duterte said.