VIENTIANE -- President Rodrigo Duterte says he cannot quarrel with the most powerful man in the planet, referring to United States President Barack Obama.
At the same time, he blames the US State Department for the bitter exchange of words between the U.S. leader and him over his administation’s war on drugs.
Speaking to Philippine media at Vientiane, Duterte said, it is improper for them to raise the issue on the alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects during the bilateral meeting between the two heads of state.
"I do not want to quarrel with the most powerful country in the planet," the President said at the sidelines of his dinner with the Filipino community in Laos.
"What's wrong is what their staff, the State Department, keeps on mouthing. They could have just sent me a note verbale or whatever and let me respond and let the human rights act on it. There's a protocol for that. You cannot just shoot a statement against the President of any country," he added.
Asked if the meeting between him and Obama will still push through, Duterte replied, "I don't know. Maybe."
"You know, Philippines is an independent country. It is not a vassal state of anybody so you have to be very careful," he stressed.
Duterte had earlier warned that "plenty will be killed" before the end of his campaign against illegal drugs and Obama had said, he is assessing whether or not now is the time to have "constructive, productive conversations" with the Philippine President.
Duterte had also called Obama a "son of a bitch," warning that he will curse the U.S. President if he raises the topic during their meeting.