By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte has apologized to Barack H. Obama Jr. whom he had frequently criticized in his past remarks, even calling the former US president at one point a “son of a whore.”
“Well, then it would be appropriate also to say at this time to Mr. Obama that you are now a civilian and I am sorry for uttering those words,” Mr. Duterte said in his remarks during his meeting with the Filipino community in Jerusalem on Sunday night, Sept. 2. Mr. Duterte is in Israel for a state visit.
It will be recalled that in 2016, before his departure to attend the ASEAN summit in Laos, Mr. Duterte remarked “son of a whore” when asked about Mr. Obama’s flagging the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the government’s drug war. He later said the expletive was not directly aimed at Mr. Obama, as video recordings would bear him out, he noted, although reports asserted the contrary.
But despite his apology, Mr. Duterte in Jerusalem also recalled: “[Mr.] Obama in public, in a press briefing…he was talking about me….He castigated me about human rights.”
“If you have qualms, if you have complaints against me, go to the United Nations. File your complaint there and ask for a hearing,” he added.
“Kaya…nagalit ako sabi ko (That’s why I got mad), ‘P________, Obama you can go to hell. You son of a _____.’ Sinabi ko ‘yan (I said that) because he was not a civilized person anyway,” he continued.
But he explained that “it was just a plain ‘talkatese,’” adding, “We have learned our lessons very well. Nag-ano tayo — nagkakaintindihan tayo (We now understand each other).”
He also said that “being a president,” Mr. Obama “ought to know the basic rules.”
“You do not criticize, especially if it is a problem of the country that you are criticizing. You do not know anong solusyon mo (what your solution is),” he added.
Mr. Durterte also said he has already “forgiven” Mr. Obama. “I have forgiven you just like ‘yung lahat ng mga girlfriend ko noong binata pa ako (I have forgiven all my girlfriends when I was young),” he jokingly said.
In the same speech, Mr. Duterte said he is in good terms with the current US President, Donald J. Trump, whom he first met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, in November last year. Mr. Trump visited the Philippines the same month to attend the ASEAN-US Summit and East Asia Summit in Manila.
“Trump is a good friend of mine,” he said, adding that he gets confused with the treatment he gets from Mr. Trump and his predecessor.
“Here is one guy, president, and another, president. I cannot understand you. Two presidents — [one is] praising you and [the other] one is condemning you,” he said.
Last month, a US defense official cautioned the Philippines against from buying submarines from Russia, prompting another of Mr. Duterte’s anti-American rhetoric.
Mr. Trump’s Cabinet officials, Secretary of State Michael Richard Pompeo, Defense Secretary James Norman Mattis, and, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Louis Ross, Jr., then wrote him a letter asking the Philippine government to purchase US military equipment like “upgraded surveillance and aircraft system such as Bell combat utility helicopters and ScanEagle, Gulfstream and Cessna 208 aircraft” for the modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
However, Mr. Duterte was not impressed with the offer. “Prove to me first that you are in utter good faith,” he said in his speech in Davao City on Aug. 23 in response to the letter from the US.
Agence France-Presse has reported that Mr. Duterte is also in Israel to seek new sources of military hardware and to nail down protections for overseas Filipino workers.