MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte late Friday clarified that he will not sever the Philippines' ties with the United States despite an earlier announcement of "separating" with the global superpower.
"You have to take my words in the context of what I've been saying all along. It's not severance of ties because in severance of ties, you have to cut diplomatic relations. I cannot do that," Duterte said during a press conference in Davao City following his arrival from a state visit to Brunei and China.
Duterte earlier announced in Beijing his "separation" from the United States following a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
"I, in this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States both in military -- not in social -- both in military but economic," the firebrand leader said, drawing applause from the crowd.
"So please, you have another problem of economics in my country. I am separated from them, so I will be dependent on you for all time. But do not worry. We will also help," he added.
However, Duterte said in Davao City that his earlier statement did not mean cutting diplomatic ties with the United States.
"As a separation, what I'm really saying is a separation of foreign policy," the president emphasized. "In the past and until I became president, we always followed what the United States would give the cue."
Duterte also indicated that he has no plan to visit the U.S.
He said Filipinos in the United States "would kill him" if he cuts the Philippines' diplomatic ties with the global superpower.
"That is why I'm not going there (United States).... not in this lifetime," he said Duterte.
U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that the United States would seek clarification from the Philippines about the "separation" remark.
"It's not clear to us exactly what that means in all its ramifications," he said.
Duterte on Saturday gave a series of comments to clarify those remarks.
"Sever is to cut. Separate is just to chart another way of doing," he said.
DUTERTE BLASTS E.U ANEW
While diplomatic ties between the two long-time allies will most likely remain intact, it seemed that the relationship between the Philippines and the European Union reached another low.
Duterte took the opportunity to blast the E.U. again.
He alleged that the E.U. threatened to cut aid to the Philippines if he fails to account for those killed in his war against drugs.
'P********!' Ganyang kaliit ang tingin n'yo sa amin?"
(Son of a b*tch. Is that how low you think of us?)
"Assistance, U.S. aid, you can go to hell. E.U., no wonder you are in shambles now. You cannot even agree to be together or not. Whether to form still a European community or disintegrate. Why? Because all your lawyers are all stupid and idiots," Duterte said.
The E.U and the United States have criticized the extra-judicial killings and human rights abuses linked to the Duterte administration's war on illegal drugs.
He also launched another tirade against the United States for criticizing his war on crime, which has left more than 3,600 people dead and raised fears about extrajudicial killings.
Duterte said the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which allows for a much greater U.S. military presence in the Philippines, remained in jeopardy.
"It will affect EDCA and the rest of the agreements, maybe, I will have to consult the military, the police and everybody," he said.
Duterte often laces his rhetoric with vulgar language. He let loose again at US and European critics of his war on crime.
"You sons of whores. Your euro, that's a piece of paper. You run out of toilet paper, you wipe up your ass," he said in a rant that at times appeared not to make sense.
"You guys are bullshit. Why am I saying this? It sounds the height of vulgarity. You started it."
Duterte also repeated criticism of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, saying it was based on a lie and triggered turmoil in the Middle East that cost many lives.
"If there is one thing that America has failed miserably, it is in the province of the human dignity," he said at the end of his critique of US foreign policy in the Middle East.
Duterte said he also endorsed Russian efforts to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power.
"If Assad is out they (the United States) will have destroyed the entire Middle East," he said. - with a report from Agence France-Presse