NEWS BRIEF Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte apologized on Tuesday for calling U.S. President Obama a “son of a bitch,” but the apology came too late to save their scheduled meeting at the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Duterte made the comment just before he boarded a plane for the conference, which is being held in Laos. A reporter asked the president how he planned to explain to Obama the recent extrajudicial killings and war on drugs that have killed about 2,400 people since Duterte took office in late June. If confronted about the killings, Duterte said, he would tell Obama:“Son of a bitch, I will swear at you in this forum.”
By late Monday, Duterte seemed to regret his choice of words, and said he did not want to quarrel with Obama. Duterte has threatened local journalists, the Catholic church, and called the U.S. ambassador to the Philippines a “gay son of a whore.” Obama seemed to take the comments about him in stride, saying, “I have seen some of those colorful statements in the past, and so, clearly, he’s a colorful guy.”
By Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued a formal apology for Duterte’s remarks: “While asserting the intent to chart an independent foreign policy and promote closer ties with all nations, he expressed his deep regard and affinity for President Obama and for the enduring partnership between our nations.”