Duterte 'purposely skipped' meeting with Obama, others

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Duterte said he skipped some ASEAN meeting as "a matter of principle."

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday evening that he "purposely did not attend" a number of meetings in last week's ASEAN summit, including bilateral talks with U.S. President Barack Obama and other ASEAN countries.

"Talagang ini-skip ko 'yun [I intentionally skipped (those meetings)]. I attended all others," Duterte told a group of soldiers, policemen and teachers who were given recognition for outstanding service.

Related: Duterte tells regional leaders, U.S. not to lecture PH on rights

It can be recalled that last Thursday, Palace peace process adviser Jesus Dureza said Duterte "was not feeling well in the morning so he missed the two sessions." Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay instead attended the ASEAN-US and the ASEAN-United Nations summit.

"The reason is not I am anti-West. The reason is not I do not like the Americans. It's simply a matter of principle for me," the President explained.

Related: PH won’t part with the United Nations

Duterte's maiden international foray had caught worldwide attention on account of his controversial remarks on Obama. He also had some stinging remarks about U.N. Sec. Gen. Ban Ki-moon.

"Human rights? Who are you to have the moral ascendancy to talk to me about that," Duterte said while holding photos of slain Moros during the American colonization in the country.

"Six thousand Filipinos. Men, women and children all in a common grave. As imperialists, you wanted to colonize my country." citing that Mindanao was an Islam community when Ferdinand Magellan landed in Leyte in 1521.

Salute to service

Meanwhile, Duterte repeated his gratitude and admiration to the soldiers and policemen.

He also related that his mother was also a teacher so that he knew how difficult it was to make both ends meet with government salary. He said that many had no choice but to borrow from "5-6" or loan sharks who charge exorbitant interest rates.

"You'll have everything you need. All the weapons that our Republic can afford," he said, adding that salary increase for men in uniform was his priority.

"These are the guys we send to the mouths of hell," Duterte said.

Taking full responsibility

Regarding the anti-drug war, the President that the police and the military — even himself — were surprised at the enormity and gravity of the drug situation in the country.

That's why he had classified this as a national security issue.

"I did not declare a punitive police action, mind you, against drugs. I declared a war."

He said he would not stop "until the last addict is eliminated," adding that he would "assume full responsibility" for the official acts of policemen and soldiers following his orders.

"They have my blessings... (Kung may demanda) Ituro nyo ako [Should there be charges against you, you point them to me]. I'm ready to be arrested."

The President closed his remarks by saying, "If I stop now, I would have compromised the next generation."