DAVAO CITY—President Rodrigo Duterte has consistently echoed anti-American sentiments even before he became a politician.
As a student of the Lyceum of the Philippines, Duterte was a member of the Kabataang Makabayan, a leftist movement formed in 1964 whose leaders would later on form the Communist Party of the Philippines.
CPP founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison, who was Duterte’s professor on Political Thought, was then the founding chairman of KM, which espoused an anti-US position.
“Sison contaminated us early on and we became the first KM members. If I make it, God-willing, to the presidency, I will be the first left President of this country,” Duterte said days before the May elections.
Duterte also admitted having a falling out with the US government as he accused Washington of having a hand in a terrorist attack in his hometown, Davao City.
The then mayor of Davao City claimed that agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation spirited one Michael Terrence Meiring out of the country and without any approval from the Philippine government.
Meiring was injured inside the Evergen Hotel in Davao City in 2002 when there was an explosion inside his rented room. The following day, FBI agents took Meiring out of the hospital and brought him to Singapore before finally going back to America.
“It was early in the morning when [former US Ambassador to the Philippines Francis] Ricciardone flew here and met with me in a hotel here. He assured me then that they will conduct an investigation regarding the Meiring incident. Yet since then, the US government failed to fully explain to me how come they violated our sovereign right to prosecute Meiring who committed a crime here in our city,” Duterte said in an interview with CNN in 2011.
“When a bomb exploded at the airport and followed by another explosion at the wharf several months after the hotel explosion that injured Meiring, that was when I started suspecting that the US could have had a hand in the said explosions,” he added, referring to the March 2003 explosion at the Davao International Airport which was followed a month later by another explosion in the Sasa wharf.
On Sunday, hours before he left for Laos to attend his first international conference as chief executive and where he was scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama, Duterte was asked by a reporter if he was ready to explain the spate of killings in the country to other foreign leaders, including his American counterpart.
It was then that Duterte flared up, and mentioned a historical injustice during the American occupation in the Philippines were at least 600 Moros, mostly women and children, were killed in Mindanao. The two-day battle in 1906 happened at the 15-acre wooded crater of Bud Dajo.
“I do not respond to anybody but to the people of the Republic of the Philippines. I do not care about him [Obama]. Who is he? When as a matter of a fact, at the turn of the century, before the Americans left the Philippines in the pacification campaign on the Moro in this island—how many Moro died? Six hundred. If he can answer that question and give the apology, I will answer him [on the alleged extra-judicial killings],” the President said.