The new leader of the Philippines is in a league of his own when it comes to presidential profanity. Rodrigo Duterte's favorite phrase, which translates roughly to "son of a whore," has been deployed against the likes of President Obama and Pope Francis. On Tuesday, during a speech to local business executives in his hometown of Davao City, he took aim at the European Union with irreverent gusto.
The E.U.'s parliament recently told Duterte to "put an end" to the killings of drug suspects, which human rights groups say has claimed the lives of more than 2,400 people.
"I have read the condemnation of the European Union. I'm telling them, 'F--- you,' " Duterte said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"I repeat it, 'F--- you!' " said Duterte as he assumed a deadpan look, raised his right hand and unfurled his middle finger. The audience applauded.
As my colleague Emily Rauhala wrote this month, Duterte's drug war has unleashed a "tidal wave of extrajudicial and vigilante killings that is devastating the Philippines. Recent victims include a 4-year-old girl out to get popcorn with her father and a 5-year-old shot to death in her family's store."
Duterte campaigned on promises of eradicating the country's drug problem by any means possible — including a vow to kill 100,000 criminals in his first six months in office.
When he was mayor of Davao City, he used similarly extrajudicial approaches. Last week, in a hearing before the Philippines Senate, a man who claimed to be a former hit man for Duterte said he'd been paid to carry out summary executions that involved feeding a body to a crocodile, chopping up corpses and dumping slashed bodies into the sea.
Human Rights Watch called Duterte the "Death Squad Mayor" at the time.
E.U. politicians said in a resolution that Duterte has "publicly stated he would not pursue law enforcement officers and citizens who killed drug dealers who resisted arrest," and that he should investigate abuses of power "in full compliance with national and international obligations and respect for human rights."