As I wrote on Monday, President Obama has embarked on a sort of “farewell tour” in order to visit a few world leaders (and make a few more mistakes) before the end of his presidency.
Obama ratified an emissions agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday and spoke with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday. He was scheduled to speak with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, but the meeting was cancelled after the controversial new leader called Obama a “son of a whore.”
Duterte, a former lawyer branded as “The Punisher” by Time, warned President Obama not to question him about the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers. In other words, he doesn’t want Obama butting into his business like he did during the Brexit vote and and a few similar situations.
Over 2,400 suspected drug dealers have been killed since the new president took office in June. Many blame the killings on the Davao Death Squad, a vigilante group that has been linked to Duterte.
The Filipino President expressed regret on Tuesday, saying that he hopes to reschedule his meeting with President Obama. “While the immediate cause was my strong comments to certain press questions that elicited concern and distress, we also regret it came across as a personal attack on the US president,” said the maverick president. “Our primary intent is to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting closer ties with all nations, especially the US with which we had had a longstanding partnership.”
Duterte’s insult, which Obama later dismissed as “colorful,” came in response to a reporter’s question. The newly-elected Filipino President has also cursed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Pope.
“We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries,” said Duterte, adding that he will explain the context of his crackdown on drugs to Obama before engaging the US President in a discussion regarding the deaths.
“The issue of how we approach fighting crime and drug trafficking is a serious one for all of us. We’ve got to do it the right way,” said President Obama. “Undoubtedly, if and when we have a meeting, this is something that’s going to be brought up. And my expectation, my hope, is that it could be dealt with constructively.”
Duterte has also made it very clear that he will not be taking any orders from the US. “More people will be killed, plenty will be killed until the last [drug] pusher is out of the streets,” he said on Monday. “Until the last drug manufacturer is killed, we will continue and I will continue.”
Author’s Note: President Duterte has a reputation for making offensive comments about those who would criticize his actions, but we sense he has an ulterior motive here. The Filipino President knows that future talks will occur not with Obama, but with his successor, and we suspect his insult towards Obama may have been a way to curry favor with Donald Trump.
Editor’s Note: Duterte’s run as President has indeed been bloody, but he still has the support of the Philippine people. While the action may be too violent for American tastes, it may be the only way to clean this drug and terrorist infested country.