PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte insisted Friday he had not intended to insult US leader Barack Obama, but immediately took aim at another global figure by labelling UN chief Ban Ki-moon a “fool.”
Duterte sparked a storm on the eve of an Asian summit this week by labelling Obama a “son of a whore,” prompting the US president to cancel a planned meeting. The pair met briefly later at the gathering in Laos after Duterte expressed regret.
But acid-tongued Duterte on Friday said the Philippine expression putangina should not be taken at face value, and it was “an ordinary expression [used] by everyone.”
“It’s son of a bitch or son of a gun. It’s not son of a whore,” he told an audience of Filipinos during a visit to the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
He insisted his remarks were not directed at Obama but at the US State Department, which has raised concerns over potential human rights violations in Duterte’s anti-crime campaign which has left almost 3,000 dead in just over two months.
“I got really angry about these threats over this human rights issue. This is the fault of the crazy people in the State Department,” he said.
Duterte said he had clarified his comments to Obama when they met.
Duterte has become famous for his profane outbursts, and has branded Pope Francis and the US ambassador to Manila “sons of whores.”
The United Nations has also spoken out against his crime crackdown and on Friday Duterte added UN chief Ban, who spoke at the Asian summit, to the list of those he has insulted.
“I told myself, you’re just one more fool,” Duterte said of Ban.
“I will continue the campaign against the criminals. I do not have any pity for them,” he added.
“I don’t give a shit. I am the president of the Philippines, not the republic of the international community.”
Duterte was elected to office in a landslide this year after pledging to kill 100,000 people in an unprecedented war on crime. But his brutal crackdown has sparked a wave of international condemnation.
American investors in the Philippines on Friday warned that Duterte’s brutal drugs war and foul-mouthed tirades could hit foreign investment.
Obama canceled a meeting with Duterte after the firebrand leader unleashed a barrage of criticism of the US president, saying he would not be lectured about human rights over his crackdown on narcotics, which has seen police and shadowy assassins kill nearly 3,000 people.
The crackdown has seen Duterte’s domestic popularity soar but has prompted widespread international condemnation from the United Nations and human rights watchdogs, and the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines said it was also damaging investor sentiment.
The “increased number of killings during the heightened anti-drug campaign is harming the country’s image... some investors are now asking whether this campaign reduces the rule of law,” it said in a statement Friday.
The US is the Philippines’ largest trading partner after China, and a key source of foreign direct investment.
The traditionally strong ties between the US and the Philippines have been “strained by language from Philippine leaders” which is also creating “investor concern,” the statement said.
Relations saw a spectacular setback this week when Duterte branded Obama a “son of a whore” after being told the US president planned to raise concerns about his war on drugs.
Obama later briefly met with Duterte on the sidelines of a regional summit in Laos, urging him to conduct his crime war “the right way.”
The high-profile spat “could harm the long-standing optimism of American business to invest in the Philippines,” the chamber of commerce added.
Indonesia on Friday asked the Philippines to transfer its unused hajj-quota to Indonesia, a source revealed.
In an interview, an Indonesian source privy to the meeting said that President Joko Widodo has asked Duterte to transfer the country’s unused hajj quota to avoid its nationals from using illegal foreign passports.
Two weeks ago, 117 Indonesian nationals who were bound for Medina, Saudi Arabia, were arrested by the immigration authorities at the Naia for carrying authentic Philippine passports.
They were apprehended when authorities discovered that they could not speak Filipino.
They were allegedly attending the pilgrimage but failed to acquire a hajj passport as Indonesia had used up its quota.
The Indonesians who were arrested last week allegedly paid $6,000 to $10,000 each to join the pilgrimage under a quota the Saudi government reserves for Filipino pilgrims.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., said the passports were issued at the DFA’s Aseana Office in Metro Manila and based on the certification from NCMF.
He said he suspects an erring DFA staff could have been a contact for the Indonesians.
In the wake of the scandal, Yasay suspended the issuance of hajj passports.
Duterte on Friday said the expletives he uttered were not directed at Obama.
“You can review the tapes,” he told Filipinos in Indonesia.
Duterte blurted out the invectives during his pre-departure press conference in Davao City on Monday when asked how he intends to respond if Obama brings up human rights and extrajudicial killings in their scheduled one-on-one meeting.
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