Obama cancels Duterte showdown over slur attack
US President Barack Obama cancelled a meeting with foul-mouthed Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte yesterday at a regional summit after being branded a “son of a whore” who would wallow like a pig.
The pair were due to meet in the Lao capital of Vientiane at a gathering organised by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), an annual event meant to foster harmony but which often highlights regional rows.
This year’s edition was launched with a spectacular fallout between the United States and the Philippines, longtime allies that have seen relations plunge under a barrage of insults from Mr Duterte since he came to office on June 30.
Mr Obama’s aides announced that his planned meeting with Mr Duterte had been called off following a fresh tirade by the Filipino leader the previous day.
Shortly before flying to Vientiane, Mr Duterte warned he would not be lectured by Mr Obama over a war on crime in the Philippines that has claimed more than 2400 lives in just over two months.
“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum,” Mr Duterte told reporters when asked about his message for Mr Obama.
Mr Duterte, who has quickly earned a global reputation for his acid tongue, then used typically colourful language to describe their planned meeting if rights issues came up.
“We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me,” he said.
Mr Duterte had previously also branded the US ambassador to Manila a “gay son of a whore”, and sought to taint the reputation of Pope Francis’ mother in similar fashion.
Mr Duterte was elected to office in a landslide this year after pledging to kill 100,000 people in an unprecedented war on crime.
When faced with criticisms over an apparent spate of extrajudicial killings in his crime war by the United Nations, he responded with what has become familiar abuse.
“Maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations. If you are that disrespectful, son of a whore, then I will just leave you,” he said last month.
But faced with the Obama backlash yesterday, Mr Duterte offered a rare moment of contrition, albeit qualified.
“While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and