Obama on Duterte: I don't take his comments personally

Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - September 9, 2016 - 10:01am

MANILA, Philippines — United States President Barack Obama said that he does not take President Rodrigo Duterte's comments personally as it seems to be just a habit.

The scheduled meeting between Duterte and Obama was moved to a later date following the Philippine president's tirades against the American leader.

"As I said when I was asked about this in China, I don’t take these comments personally, because it seems as if this is a phrase he's used repeatedly, including directed at the Pope and others, and so I think it seems to be just a habit, a way of speaking for him," Obama said in a press briefing after the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Laos last Thursday.

Earlier this week, Duterte said that he will not bow down to Obama if ever the latter asks him about the rising extrajudicial and vigilante killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.

"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," Duterte said, using the Tagalog phrase for "son of a bitch."

Obama revealed that he shook hands with Duterte during the ASEAN gala dinner but the interaction was not long.

READ: Obama, Duterte meet after spat

The American head of state told Duterte that their teams should be meeting to determine how they can move forward on a range of issues.

"And my hope and expectation is, is that as President Duterte and his team get acclimated to his new position, that they're able to define and clarify what exactly they want to get done, how that fits in with the work that we're already doing with the Philippine government, and hopefully it will be on a strong footing by the time the next administration comes in," Obama said.

Obama added that the US wants to partner with the Philippines on its anti-drug campaign as it is also a serious problem in the US and around the world.

"On that narrow issue, we do want to make sure that the partnership we have is consistent with international norms and rule of law," the American president said.

Meanwhile, Duterte skipped the ASEAN-US and ASEAN-India meetings on Thursday due to a migraine, officials said.

Foreign Affairs Perfecto Yasay Jr. represented the Philippine sin the two sessions that the president missed.

READ: Rody suffers migraine, skips US, India summits

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