President Barack Obama called off a planned meeting Tuesday with new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, because he didn’t want Obama to ask him questions about his directive for civilians to kill drug dealers in the Philippines. It’s unusual for one president to tell another what to say or not say, and much rarer to call the other a “son of a bitch.” Before Duterte flew to Laos for a regional summit he warned Obama not to challenge him over extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
Obama responded by saying:
“Clearly, he’s a colorful guy.” “What I’ve instructed my team to do is talk to their Philippine counterparts to find out is this in fact a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations.”
Duterte has been under global scrutiny over the more than 2,000 suspected drug dealers and users killed since he took office. Obama had said he planned to raise the issue in his first meeting with Duterte, but the Philippine leader insisted he was only going to listen to his own countrymen.
Duterte said of Obama as he talked to reporters in Manilla:
“You must be respectful.” “Do not just throw questions.” Using the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch,” he said, “Putang ina I will swear at you in that forum.”
Last month, Duterte said he didn’t mind Secretary of State John Kerry but “had a feud with his gay ambassador – son of a bitch, I’m annoyed with that guy.” He said.
Early Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the meeting with Duterte was canceled.