Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has described Oxford University as a “school for stupid people”.
The comments came after a study by Oxford academics found that Duterte paid 10 million pesos (approximately £150,000) for a social media campaign in which automated bots and humans used social media accounts to spread propaganda promoting Duterte and targeting his opponents.
Despite his criticism of the University, in a press conference Duterte admitted to the study’s allegations, saying: “I spent P10 million? Me? Maybe in the elections, in the elections, I spent more than that…They were all during the campaign.”
The President denied reports that he continued to employ an army of social media trolls, claiming: “I do not need to defend myself from attacks… I do not care if my ratings go up or down.”
However, the study found that hired social media manipulators have continued to “spread and amplify” messages in support of Duterte’s policies after he won the election.
This is not the first time Duterte’s comments have attracted controversy. In the past he called President Obama a “son of a whore” over suggestions the US president might challenge him on human rights issues. Duterte has a history of insulting American officials, having described US ambassador Phillip Goldberg as a “gay son of a bitch”.
Duterte has even attacked the Pope, despite the Philippines’ widespread Catholicism. In 2015 the President complained that during the Pope’s visit to the Philippines, traffic in Manilla was so awful it took five hours for him to get from his hotel to the airport. He went on to describe how he wanted to say to Francis: “Pope, son of a bitch, go home.”
Oxford University declined to comment.