Duterte insists he snubbed Obama

MANILA • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has insisted he snubbed US leader Barack Obama after Washington cancelled their scheduled bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Asean summits in Laos last week.

Mr Duterte sparked a storm ahead of the Asean gathering by labelling Mr Obama a "son of a whore", prompting the US leader to cancel planned talks between the two allies on Sept 6. The pair met briefly later after Mr Duterte expressed regret.

But the fiery Philippine leader said on Monday that he skipped another meeting there between Mr Obama and South-east Asian leaders two days later, following US criticism of Manila's anti-crime campaign, which has claimed almost 3,000 lives.

"I purposely did not attend the bilateral talks between Asean countries and the president of the United States," Mr Duterte said in a speech to members of the police and military.

"I really skipped that one." "You just cannot (lecture) a president of a sovereign state. Even Obama. It would have been wrong for him to do that. That is why I disrespected them."

The former prosecutor mocked the "bleeding hearts" who criticised him for his human rights abuses, and reiterated his call for security forces to kill drug suspects and other criminals.

He won the presidential elections in May by a landslide after promising that tens of thousands would be killed in an unprecedented law-and-order crackdown.

In a brief encounter in Laos, Mr Obama urged the Philippine leader to conduct his crime war "the right way" and protect human rights, but Mr Duterte said it was none of America's business.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte insists he snubbed Obama'. Print Edition | Subscribe