After cursing Obama, Duterte expresses regret

Updated 12:08 PM EDT, Tue September 6, 2016
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This combination image of two photographs taken on September 5, 2016 shows, at left, US President Barack Obama speaking during a press conference following the conclusion of the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, and at right, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaking during a press conference in Davao City, the Philippines, prior to his departure for Laos to attend the ASEAN summit. 

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Story highlights

Obama was to meet with the South Korean President instead

Duterte says he is "not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people"

(CNN) —  

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is expressing regret after his obscenity-laden rant against President Barack Obama prompted the White House to cancel planned bilateral talks between the two leaders.

Duterte, who cursed Obama as a “son of a bitch” Monday, said in a statement through his spokesman that he regretted “it came across as a personal attack on the US President.”

“We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions,” the statement released on Tuesday read.

White House officials previously said Obama would confront Duterte about his country’s handling of drug dealers, including extrajudicial killings, which are government executions without the benefit of judicial proceedings.

“Who does he think he is? I am no American puppet. I am the president of a sovereign country and I am not answerable to anyone except the Filipino people,” Duterte scoffed in a speech Monday. “Son of a bitch, I will swear at you.”

A statement from Duterte’s office Tuesday claimed the “son of the bitch” insult was aimed at the journalist whose question prompted the fiery response, and not at Obama.

Obama has worked hard to develop the Philippines’ partnership with the US and as a regional counterbalance to China. He’s visited the country twice in his second term, and announced on a stop there in November the return of a US military presence at a critical naval base on the South China Sea.

But Duterte’s derogatory comments and a spike in extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers put the relationship in stormier waters.

Obama and Duterte had been set to meet in Laos this week, where Obama is attending a meeting of Southeast Asian leaders. The statement from Duterte’s spokesman said the “meeting has been mutually agreed upon to be moved to a later date.”

Read more: Who is Rodrigo Duterte? From ‘Punisher’ to Philippines President

Obama instead met Tuesday with President Park Geun-hye of South Korea.

In his speech Monday, Duterte also blamed the United States for causing the unrest on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao.

“As a matter of fact, we inherited this problem from the United States,” he said. “Why? Because they invaded this country and made us their subjugated people. Everybody has a terrible record of extrajudicial killing. Why make an issue about fighting crime?”

Duterte highlights stain on US's colonial past

  • In his comments, Duterte referred to an infamous US massacre in the southern Philippines.
  • The US acquired the Philippines from Spain as a result of the 1898 Treaty of Paris, which brought an end to the Spanish-American War.
  • Filipinos rose up against the US, waging a war that ended in 1902. But some of the Moro population -- a Muslim group in the south of the country -- continued to reject US rule, in what is known as the Moro Rebellion.
  • In 1906, an infamous battle took place in the volcanic crater of Bud Dajo on the southern island of Jolo.
  • US forces, equipped with firearms, routed the Moros, who used traditional weapons, leaving hundreds of them dead and only a handful of survivors.
  • The US's