MANILA, Philippines – After impassioned comments that raised headlines across the globe, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has issued an official statement to convey his deep regrets on calling US President Barack Obama a “son of a whore,” and that this came across as “a personal attack on the US president.”
At a press briefing at the 28th and 29th ASEAN summit, press secretary Martin Andanar read out the official statement of the Philippine government while presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella read the personal statement issued by President Duterte.
According to the statements, the bilateral talks between the two heads of states had been “mutually agreed” to be postponed at a later date. When questioned when the new date and venue of this meeting would be, both officials refused to say.
President Duterte likewise expressed “deep regard and affinity for President Obama and for the enduring partnership for [both] nations,” in underscoring his regret for earlier utterances that insulted the US head of state.
The personal statement issued by President Duterte was read by Spokesperson Ernesto Abella. The full statement reads:
“The meeting between the US and Philippines has been mutually agreed upon to be moved to a later date. While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret that it came across as a personal attack on the US president.
Our primary intention is to chart an independent foreign policy on promoting closer ties with all nations, especially the US, with which we have had a long standing partnership. We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries.”
Prior to the apology, many of Duterte’s staunch supporters came forward in social media to defend the president’s strong statements. Wharton graduate Tony Herbosa, an investment banker and founder of Traders Apprentice Pilipinas, claimed that Duterte was either “crazy or brilliant” for “attacking the most powerful leader in the world.”
Nevertheless, on the official Presidential Communications of the Government of the Philippines Facebook page, many more of Duterte’s supporters expressed their disbelief that the Philippine president had actually uttered an insult against Obama and suggested that “irresponsible media” be banned around press briefings to protect Duterte.
For the bilateral talks, Obama had earlier suggested that he might touch on human rights violations involving the Philippine administration’s “war against drugs” and regional security linked to territorial disputes with China. However, the White House cancelled this meeting earlier today after Duterte called down insults on the US president for daring to criticize his administration’s policies.