CBSN

Obama cancels meeting with Philippines president after crude comments

President Rodrigo Duterte gestures while answering questions during a pre-departure press conference before leaving for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Laos at the Davao International Airport in Davao city, Philippines, Sept. 5, 2016.

REUTERS

MANILA, Philippines -- The White House now says President Barack Obama will not meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at a gathering in Laos of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Mr. Obama and Duterte had been scheduled to meet Tuesday on the summit’s sidelines. The Philippine leader has been under intense global scrutiny over the more than 2,000 suspected drug dealers and users killed since he took office, and Mr. Obama has said he planned to raise the issue.

But Duterte said if Mr. Obama questioned him about extrajudicial killings, he would swear at him. Duterte also used the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch.”

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says Obama will meet instead with President Park Geun-hye of South Korea.

Mr. Obama said during a news conference on the last day of the G-20 economic summit in China that he had heard about the comment and instructed his aides to determine whether now was the time to have “constructive, productive conversations” in a face-to-face meeting with Duterte.

Duterte said before flying to Laos that he is a leader of a sovereign country and is answerable only to the Filipino people. He was answering a reporter’s question about how he intends to explain the extrajudicial killings to Mr. Obama. More than 2,000 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed since Duterte launched a war on drugs after taking office on June 30.

In his typical foul-mouthed style, Duterte responded: “I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony. I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody. You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. Putang ina I will swear at you in that forum,” he said, using the Tagalog phrase for son of a bitch.

Duterte has earlier cursed the pope and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

It wasn’t clear whether Mr. Obama had planned to raise the issue of extrajudicial killings with Duterte during the scheduled meeting on the sidelines of the summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“Who is he to confront me?” Duterte said, adding that the Philippines had not received an apology for misdeeds committed during the U.S. colonization of the Philippines.

He pointed to the killing of Muslim Moros more than a century ago during a U.S. pacification campaign in the southern Philippines, blaming the wounds of the past as “the reason why (the south) continues to boil” with separatist insurgencies.

Duterte also pointed to human rights problems in the United States.

Last week, Duterte said he was ready to defend his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs, which has sparked concern from the U.S. and other countries.

Duterte said he would demand that Mr. Obama allow him to first explain the context of his crackdown before engaging the U.S. president in a discussion of the deaths.