Oxford University is just a “school for stupid people,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said, in response to research from the institution which said that the leader had paid “keyboard trolls” to support his presidential campaign.
The heated discussion began when the University of Oxford released a report titled “Troops, Trolls and Troublemakers” earlier in July. It examines how governments across the globe allegedly use fake social media accounts for political purposes. The Philippines was among the countries mentioned in the report.
“In the Philippines, many of the so‐called ‘keyboard trolls’ hired to spread propaganda for presidential candidate [Rodrigo] Duterte during the election continue to spread and amplify messages in support of his policies now he’s in power,” the document states.
Duterte is a former mayor of Davao, the largest city in the Philippines, and came to power in mid-2016.
The document, cited by local Filipino media, saying that Duterte’s presidential camp paid 10 million Philippine peso (US$200,000) for social media propaganda.
The Philippine leader, nicknamed ‘The Punisher’, responded to the Oxford report during a press conference after his wide-ranging speech at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on Monday.
“I spent P10 million? Me? Maybe in the elections, in the elections, I spent more than that…They were all during the campaign,“ Duterte said, as cited by Philippines-based Rappler news website.
The hardline president said that he had no need for defenders.
“Oxford University? That’s a school for the stupid people,” he concluded.
Study author Phil Howard said that Duterte holds a grudge against Oxford “because he dislikes our latest findings.”
“He appears to say he spent more than we thought, but mostly during the campaign, and *probably* not since in office,” Howard added.
Duterte, who became notorious for his controversial statements about world leaders and the Church, was voted the most influential person of 2017 by readers of Time magazine in an online poll.
The Philippine president has repeatedly found himself in hot water over his notorious ‘War on Drugs’, which has reportedly resulted in more than 7,000 extrajudicial killings, according to HRW.
He was elected partially on a promise to extend countrywide the tactics he had used against drug crime while serving as mayor of Davao.
In March, when the European Parliament passed a resolution concerning his plans to revive the death penalty for drug convicts, Duterte questioned why the EU “has to f**k with” his country. In December 2016, he threatened to burn down the UN headquarters in New York.
He has also repeatedly made clear his distaste for ex-US President Barack Obama.