Philippine president ‘regrets’ Obama slur

Philippine president ‘regrets’ Obama slur

Philippine president ‘regrets’ Obama slur

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte leaves the opening ceremony of the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos September 6, 2016. REUTERS photo

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte expressed regret yesterday that a tirade against Barack Obama, in which he called the U.S. leader a “son of a whore,” came across as a personal attack.

Longtime allies the United States and the Philippines have seen relations plunge under a barrage of insults from Duterte since he came to office on June 30.

The latest Duterte outburst came on Sept. 5 before a planned meeting between the leaders at a regional summit in Laos. Obama responded to the outburst by cancelling the talks, which prompted a Duterte to offer a qualified expression of regret.    

“While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the U.S. president,” a statement released by Duterte said. The 71-year-old former prosecutor was referring to his Sept. 5 remarks when he warned he would not be lectured by Obama over concerns about a brutal war on drug crime that has claimed more than 2,400 lives in the Philippines.

“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum,” Duterte told reporters when asked about his message for Obama.

Duterte, who has quickly earned a global reputation for his jibes, then used typically colorful language to describe their planned meeting if rights issues came up. “We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me,” he said. Duterte’s about-turn yesterday said both sides would hold face-to-face talks “at a later date.”

“Our primary intention is to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting closer ties with all nations especially the U.S.,” Duterte’s statement said. 

Obama has cancelled a planned meeting with Duterte.