Earlier this week, during the G20 summit which took place in China, Philippines President Duterte insulted President Barack Obama. However, it is arguably too little, too late. Following the insult, Obama cancelled the meeting he had scheduled with the Philippines head of state.
This was one of the more unexpected incidents that took place during the G20 Summit earlier this week. Most people who are aware of Duterte’s penchant for causing media scandals didn’t find the insult all that surprising.
In May, he had to apologize to another prominent social, and political figure, Pope Francis, whom he called a “son of a whore”. And earlier in August, he insulted the US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg, a similarly colorful name.
This time, Philippines President Duterte wasn’t even reacting to any particular remark Obama had made. During an interview, a reporter asked whether or not during the bilateral meeting between the two heads of state, they will be discussing the issue of the war on the drugs.
The Philippines’ war on drugs has been quite brutal. Over 2000 suspected of dealing drugs have been killed either by police of vigilantes. The US has expressed their concerns over this figure. Most of the world is considering whether or not this could possibly constitute a human rights violation at some level.
The Philippines’ war on drugs has been quite brutal. Over 2000 people suspected of dealing drugs have been killed either by police of vigilantes. The US has expressed their concerns over this figure. Most of the world is considering whether or not this could possibly constitute a human rights violation at some level.
Discussing with the reporters, Duterte seemed convinced the US head of state was going to “lecture” him on his take on the war on drugs during the meeting. He stated that that would be very rude of the US President, and would determine him to call Obama a “son of a bitch”.
President Duterte Apologizes for the Insult Through His Officials
Philippines authorities are now scrambling to pick up the pieces after this PR disaster. Officials declared that President Duterte “regrets that his remarks to the press have caused much controversy”.
“He expressed his deep regard and affinity for President Obama and for the enduring partnership between our nations.”
Obama had declared before the meeting that he was not going to take the human rights issue lightly. Tensions were already high between the two states because of this.
At this moment, it is unclear if the two heads of state are going to reschedule the meeting. Obama chose to talk to South Korean President Geun-hye instead.
The Philippines and the US are allies in a dispute against the Chinese government. The issue is related to a major trade route in the South China Sea. The US accuse the Chinese government of militarizing this trade route. They argue that this puts free trade at risk.
In July, in the Hague, and arbitration court decided that China’s claims to the territories in the South China sea were invalid. It was the Philippines who brought the case to their attention. Beijing continues to ignore the ruling.
Still, this recent incident has overshadowed Obama’s visit to Laos, during the opening of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and East Asia Summits.
Obama’s visit to Laos is of historical significance. This is the first time a US President has visited the state since the ‘70s. Laos had sustained heavy damage during the Vietnam war. Obama declared he would finally repay the nation for the damages caused. Unfortuntely, the incident with President Duterte seems to have dampened the spirit of the occasion.
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