MANILA – Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte asserted on Friday that he will not repeat the mistakes of former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria with regards to his anti-drugs policy in the Philippines.
“We can never make the same mistake because I am not stupid; you are (...),” Duterte said during an address at a business forum in the city of Davao in southern Philippines, broadcast by local television channel ABS-CBN.
Duterte had dismissed Gaviria as stupid earlier on Wednesday too, after the Colombian leader had urged him in an article in the New York Times newspaper, to halt his aggressive anti-drug campaign because, according to his own experience, it was not a fight that could be won through force.
Gaviria, who headed the Colombian government between 1990-1994, also argued that such a tough stance does not necessarily yield results and comes at a huge cost.
The Colombian foreign ministry had responded to Duterte’s Wednesday remarks by issuing a note of protest, in which it described the remarks as “unfortunate” and highlighted the importance of “respect” in interactions between countries.
Insulting people who criticize him is not new to Duterte, who called Barack Obama a “son of a bitch” when he was the US president and recently used the same term to refer to bishops in the Philippines.
The Philippine leader has been criticized by the international community for the aggressive anti-drug campaign he launched after taking office on June 30, 2016.
More than 7,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the anti-drugs drive in the Philippines, of which at least 2,500 were suspects killed in police raids.
Although the campaign has been suspended to “cleanse” the police force of corrupt officials, Duterte has expressed his intention to resume it as soon as possible and extend it until the end of his term in 2022.