8 July 2016, DAVAO (TSR) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte blamed United States-led intervention for the ongoing violence and destruction in the Middle East , citing the terrorist attacks around the world were due to Americans importing terrorism.
Duterte delivered on Friday a politically-charged speech in Davao City at an Eid al-Fitar celebration marking the end of the month of Ramadan. In front of an audience of Muslim Filipinos, he said that the 2003 invasion of Iraq orchestrated by the US was the source of the grisly conflicts in Iraq.
“It is not that the Middle East is exporting terrorism in America. America imported terrorism,” Duterte said. He also mirrored the violence committed by Middle Eastern militants to that of insurgents based in the Philippines.
Iraq was better off when Saddam Hussein was in control, the president said, adding that violence began erupting in the country once Iraqis were “pushed to the wall for the failed promises.”
Results of a thorough investigation showed that there was no reason to go to war, he added, citing a report he heard over BBC.
“After a thorough, almost 10 years investigation, it turns out there was not legal basis to declare war against Iraq… it’s such a useless war,” Duterte said.
“They destroyed the Middle East,” Duterte told the Muslim community. “They forced their way to Iraq. Look at Iraq now. Look what happened to Libya, look what happened to Syria. Nauubos ang tao dun, pati bata (People are being annihilated there, including children.).”
The president also paralleled US intervention to colonialism in the Philippines, saying that the country had been peaceful until Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition in 1521 that introduced Christianity.
“Over decades, by force naging Christians ang mga Malay brother natin (our Malay brothers became Christians)…because of colonialism,” he said.
Duterte announced that is “working overtime” with cabinet secretary Leoncio Evasco to organize simultaneous peace talks with Muslim rebel groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
He said if talks are successful, he has plans to reframe the country into more of a federalist system that would require a reconfiguration of the territory, giving Mindanao more self-governance and resources.
He called for widespread peace in the nation, especially the Muslim community.
“As a nation we must sit down,” he said. “Why must we kill each other?”
Washington, who has been Manila’s long-standing ally, has yet to comment on Duterte’s critical remarks.