President Barack Obama canceled a planned meeting with new Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, after Duterte – just before flying to Laos for a regional summit with Obama – publicly warned Obama not to ask about accusations of Duterte’s extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs, and insulted Obama with a demeaning phrase in the Tagalog language.
“Clearly, he’s a colorful guy,” Obama said initially, in response to Duterte’s comments. “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.”
Then, early Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the meeting with Duterte was off.
Duterte, who had been scheduled to meet Obama on Tuesday on the summit’s sidelines, has been under intense 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 listening to his own country’s people.
“You must be respectful,” Duterte said of Obama, to reporters in Manila. “Do not just throw questions.” He then said the demeaning phrase in Tagalog.