Insulting Obama--Not Rape Victims, Pope--Costs Philippines President Meeting With Obama

By Patrick Goodenough | September 5, 2016 | 7:36 PM EDT

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte boards his limousine upon arrival in Vientiane, Laos to attend the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and other related summits Monday, Sept. 5, 2016 in Vientiane, Laos. Laos is this year's host of the annual regional meeting and its dialogue partners that includes the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.(AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

(CNSNews.com) – Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has insulted everyone from rape victims to the Pope, but after he directed a vulgar expression at President Obama and warned him not to raise human rights criticism at a planned meeting, the White House called off the encounter.

The two leaders were to have met Tuesday, on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Laos, but before flying to the gathering Duterte told reporters in Manila Obama had better be “respectful” and not just “throw” questions and statements at him about extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.

Duterte then used a phrase in Tagalog that is generally translated “son of a bitch” or similar (putang ina mo) and warned the American president that he would swear at him at the summit. (Philippines newspapers sometimes refer to putang as the "p-word.")

Asked about the comments, Obama said during a news conference in Hangzhou, China – where he has been taking part in a G20 summit – that he had instructed his aides to reach out to their Filipino counterparts to determine whether a constructive meeting was possible at this time.

Obama implicitly reiterated U.S. concerns about the way Duterte – whom he described as “a colorful guy” – was confronting the drug trade challenge.

“We recognize the significant burden that the drug trade plays not just in the Philippines but around the world, and fighting narco-trafficking is tough,” he said. “But we will always assert the need to have due process and to engage in that fight against drugs in a way that’s consistent with basic international norms.”

“And so, undoubtedly,” Obama continued, “if and when we have a meeting this is something that is going to be brought up.”

According to the Associated Press, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said subsequently that the meeting planned in Laos would no longer take place.

In his comments Monday, Duterte said Filipinos were not “lapdogs” of the Americans.

“Nobody has the right to lecture me,” he said, and asked in reference to Obama, “Who is he to confront me?”

“I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony,” Duterte said. “I do not have any master except the Filipino people – nobody but nobody.”

“You must be respectful,” he continued. “Do not just throw away questions and statements. Putang ina’ mo murahin kita diyan sa forum na ‘yan [son of a bitch, I will curse you in that forum.]”

“Why make an issue of fighting crime?” he asked. “ Look at the human rights of America – the way how they treat the migrants there.”

“The campaign against drugs will continue,” Duterte declared. “Plenty will be killed.

“Until the drug manufacturer is killed, we will continue and I will continue and I don’t give a sh*t about anybody observing my behavior.”

Duterte’s election last May ushered onto the international scene a man controversial both for his rough crime-fighting methods as mayor of Davao City in Mindanao and for his tongue. It raised particular challenges for Washington, as the former U.S. colony is a key and strategically-located treaty ally,

While campaigning for the presidency, Duterte recalled that when an Australian missionary was held hostage and raped during a prison riot in Davao 27 years earlier, she had been “so beautiful” that he thought that, as mayor, he “should be been first” in line.

Complaints from a woman’s group prompted an invitation to “go to hell.”

While campaigning Duterte also cursed Pope Francis, using the same term he used for Obama. The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, but he won by a landslide.

The vulgar language did not cease with his inauguration, with his subsequent targets including the U.S. ambassador in Manila.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

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