MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday reiterated friendship with Vladimir Putin but said there’s one thing that makes him different from the Russian leader.
"Ako kaibigan ko si --- Huwag ninyo ilabas ito sa TV ha? Putulin niyo. --- kaibigan ko si Putin pero sumobra," Duterte said after the ceremonial signing of the Public Service Act.
(I am friends with...don't air this on TV. Edit it. I am friends with Putin but he went overboard.)
Lashing out at critics who call him a killer, Duterte defended himself.
"Ang pinapatay ko kriminal. Si Putin binobomba pati babae, bata, lahat na," he said.
(I kill criminals but Putin bombs women, children, everyone.)
Duterte then launched a tirade, cursing at the International Criminal Court, and reiterated that he does not recognize it.
The ICC is looking into alleged crimes against humanity in Duterte's bloody war against illegal drugs, but has suspended its investigation as part of due process following the Philippine government's deferral request.
The livestream of his speech was cut in the RTVMalacañang YouTube and Facebook accounts.
The video was back online at around 9:40 p.m. Monday, but the portion wherein Duterte compared himself to Putin was removed.
In the same video, Duterte claimed that Manila may be caught in a crossfire if China also invades the Philippines.
After oil prices surged in the past weeks, Duterte said the war in Ukraine can only end "if Putin wants it or he is taken out."
"The name of the game is pressure. So hindi natin alam... Ang presyo sa gobyerno it’s nakatali doon sa production ng oil. So iyan siya. And if by unfortunate chance, per chance, talagang maipit si Putin at tusukin niya 'yung pula na butones, ah wala na," Duterte said.
(The name of the game is pressure. So we don't know...The price for the government, it's tied to the production of oil. It's like that. And if by unfortunate chance, per chance, they continue pressuring Putin and pushes the red button, then it's over.)
"Then my thinking is 'pag mag ganoon 'yan, ang China will invade. Pero sa intelligence briefing, tatamaan talaga tayo," he added.
(What I'm thinking is when that happens, China will invade. Based on an intelligence briefing, we will be affected.)
Duterte said he allowed unrestricted access to American forces in the Philippines to help protect the country.
"Let us not kid each other. Nandito 'yung America. The reason I said why I gave the orders to our military is to allow them unrestricted (access) para matapos na. Huwag lang sana 'yung China," he added.
(Let us not kid each other. America is here. The reason I said why I gave the orders to our military is to allow them unrestricted (access) so it will end. But hopefully not China.)
Duterte added he will not support calls from the global community to rally behind Ukraine.
"I will not send my soldiers upon the request of anybody to join the cause against Russia," he said.
Duterte last week said the Philippines would maintain neutrality, following a Filipino ambassador's remark that the country was open to offering its facilities to the United States, a Ukraine ally, if the war spilled over to Asia.
The Philippines has condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine and "strongly urge(d) the cessation of hostilities", in a statement delivered at the United Nations General Assembly's emergency special session.
Putin on Feb. 24 sent thousands of Russian troops to "demilitarize and de-nazify" Ukraine.
But the toll on the country's civilians has been heavy. Around 10 million Ukrainians have fled their homes, roughly one-third going abroad, the United Nations refugee agency said.
They are fleeing fighting that, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has left around 14,000 Russian servicemen dead, a number that "will only continue to rise".
Russia has provided no death toll since early March, when it said nearly 500 servicemen had been killed. Ukrainian officials said on March 12 that some 1,300 Ukrainian troops had died.
Ukraine has not been providing a civilian toll, except for children, saying at least 115 have now perished.
The war has sparked turmoil for an already vulnerable world economy and unleashed a wave of Western sanctions against Putin, his entourage and Russian companies.
Russia is a major exporter of oil, gas and commodities, while Ukraine is a major supplier of wheat.
— With a report from Agence France-Presse