Philippines leader scolds EU for ‘idiotic’ drug rehab solution

President Rodrigo Duterte reviews police academy graduates as he arrives to attend the Philippine National Police Academy (PNPA) graduation in Camp Castaneda, Silang town in Cavite city, south of Manila, Philippines March 24, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

(This story contains strong language in para 1, 4)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte hit out at the European Union on Friday for hypocrisy and called the bloc “sons of bitches” after its lawmakers issued a resolution calling for restraint and a rethink in his bloody war on drugs.

Duterte castigated the EU for urging him to focus his campaign on drugs rehabilitation and stood by his security-centred approach to a crackdown that has left thousands of people dead since he took office nine months ago.

He turned angry during a speech to Chinese businessmen, where he praised China for its no-strings-attached loans and aid and said he did not need the EU, or “idiotic” rehabilitation programmes that failed to stop addicts committing robbery, rape and murder.

“So we’re getting a relief now from our hardships because a lot of (Chinese) money is coming in. The EU, they communicated to us, and they want a health-based solution for the drugs. These sons of bitches,” he said.

The EU’s rehabilitation approach, he said, entailed administering drugs like cocaine, marijuana and heroin.

“They want us to build clinics, then instead of arresting, putting them in prisons, just like in other countries, you go there and if you want shabu, they will inject you and give you shabu and you go out,” he said, referring to the methamphetamine used in the Philippines.

“Our people will just go there and consume every chemical until kingdom come, until they are crazy… who will answer for these?”

EU lawmakers last week condemned the “many extrajudicial killings” taking place in the Philippines and said the sources of illegal drugs should be targeted, not the consumer. Duterte’s aides accused the EU of meddling.

It was not the first time Duterte has scolded the EU. In September he made a middle-finger gesture and made profane comments about the EU, then complained he had been insulted.

The EU is the biggest foreign investor in the Philippines and is its fourth-largest trading partner, offering Manila tariff perks under its Generalised Scheme of Preferences.

Duterte’s signature war on drugs has alarmed the international community, with more than 2,500 killed in operations in which police said they fired in self defence.

Thousands of other mysterious killings of drug users have taken place, which human rights groups blame on police. The authorities reject that and attribute them to vigilantes, or drugs gangs covering their tracks.

The government rejects criticism it lacks commitment to rehabilitate drug users and says it is attracting financing and building treatment facilities, but had underestimated the scale of addiction.

Duterte said the EU had no business complaining about bloodshed in the Philippines when millions of Europeans were killed last century during the two world wars.

“It’s easy to criticize, it’s easy to point out mistakes. My God, you trace your history. You also washed your hands with blood. Why are you suggesting a stupid solution?”

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Enrico dela Cruz; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Nick Macfie)