Duterte: I did not start this issue with the U.S.

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) —  President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday unleashed a fresh tirade against the United States government and its criticism of the country's war against drugs.

The U.S. government, he said, was the first to trigger the slew of anti-U.S. rhetoric he's made since he was elected in May.

"Alam mo hindi ako ang nag-una ng away na ito e. Ang nag-una, sila," the President said in a press conference prior to his departure on a three-day official visit to Japan. [I did not start this issue. They were the ones who started it.]"

Read: Duterte to tackle strategic ties and possibly South China Sea dispute in Japan trip

"'Yung election [During the elections], I made a comment, a narration of an actual event which happened in Davao and which was covered by all media outlets there. Tapos [Then] the ambassador said something not very nice," Duterte recounted.

He was referring to U.S. ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg who chastised the President in August for a joke Duterte made during his campaign about the rape and murder of an Australia missionary in Davao in 1989.

"You are not supposed to do that because, in an election of another country, you should be careful with your mouth. I reacted into it (and) it started to go out of control until they threatened me with imprisonment kasi [because of] human rights violation," Duterte said in Tuesday's press briefing. 

Read: Goldberg: U.S. did not fail the Philippines

Clearly incensed, the President continued: "Tapos sila ang nag-umpisa na [they said] 'be careful.' Lumabas 'yung (articles on) human rights, State Department, [U.S. President] Obama, EU (European Union), ginanon ako.  [Translation: "They were the ones who started it, telling us to 'be careful.' Articles on human rights, the U.S. State Department, Obama, EU, those are what they did.]

"And every time they said, 'We will cut our assistance,' Sabi ko sa kanila, 'putang ina ninyo, huwag niyo kaming gawing aso," he  added.  [Translation: "And every time they said, 'We will cut our assistance.' I told them, 'Son of a bitch, do not treat us like dogs."]

Duterte, who still enjoys popular support in the country despite his curses and incendiary comments, lamented how the United States and the European Union were quick to "threaten" him with human rights violations because of alleged extrajudicial killings tagged to the government's anti-drug campaign.

In turn, he has pointed out the U.S. and E.U.'s failure to end the war in Syria or the refugee crisis in Europe.

The Philippine National Police on Tuesday said that 1,714 drug personalities have been killed, and 750,000 drug dependents and drug pushers have surrendered, based on reports from police operations in the war against drugs.

On Monday, a high-ranking U.S. State Department official visiting Manila expressed concern over Duterte's string of controversial remarks and the "loss of life" in the drug war.

 

"The succession of controversial statements and comments, and a real climate of uncertainty about the Philippines' intentions has created consternation in a number of countries, not only in mine, and not only among governments," said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel.

"Your friends are also concerned about the loss of life in connection to narcotics campaign. Now, we strongly support the efforts against the war of drugs," Russel said, as he "reiterated the importance that we place and that others place on due process and respect for the rights of citizens."

Read: Drug war critics urge priority on rehab and harm-reduction to curb drug abuse

The Philippines not a 'lapdog'

The President in the departure briefing also defended his statements saying that he advocated "separation" of ties from the U.S. during his state visit to China last week.

He was merely following the Philippine constitution.

"Wala man akong ginawa sa China [I did nothing in China]. Nag-usap kami [We talked] and there were a lot of speculations. Sabi ko, 'Look at Section 7 (of the Philippine Constitution)'. It states clearly: that the Philippines shall follow an independent foreign policy and putting at most of the time the best interest of the nation. Sinunod ko lang 'yun [I just followed that]," he said.

"I am not also a 'tuta' of any country. Ang puwede lang mag-tuta sa akin ay ang Pilipino," Duterte said, referring to accusations that he was kowtowing to China and Russia at the expense of relations with the U.S. [Translation: "I am not also a lapdog of any country. I can only be subservient to Filipinos."]

Read: In China, Duterte announces split with U.S.: 'America has lost'

Stronger ties with Japan

Earlier in his speech, President Duterte said he looks forward to his "most-awaited" three-day official visit to Japan, which begins Tuesday.

"This official visit will be a valuable opportunity to further deepen and broaden the Philippines' relationship with Japan, our valued strategic partner and one of our true friends," he said.

"We will discuss, among others, greater politico-social and defense cooperation particularly in maritime domain awareness and maritime security," he added.

Read: PH-Japan defense treaty may be discussed in Duterte visit

Duterte will focus on seeking Japan's help in providing better infrastructure and maintaining lasting peace in the Philippines.

"To support the Philippines' sustained growth and development, I shall seek to open more avenues of cooperation in key infrastructure development. In particular, we can tap the experience and expertise of Japan in developing high quality and modern public transportation," he said.

"Mindanao will be a central focus as, together with Japan, we shall seek to put on track this island-region towards a just and lasting peace and development."

The President will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to "reaffirm" the ties of the two countries, which celebrates 60 years of bilateral relations this year.

"This is an important time for Philippines-Japan relations as we advance an independent foreign policy in our engagement with the community of nations," he said.