Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte told Barack Obama he never called him a “son of a bitch”, he said on Friday, but he maintained a defiant stance on his war on drugs, saying U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon was a fool for bringing up human rights.
U.S. President Obama canceled a planned meeting with Duterte at this week’s ASEAN summit in Laos after the Philippine leader’s alleged insult in his native Tagalog, but the two met briefly later as they waited to take their seats at a banquet.
On a visit to the Indonesian capital on Friday, Duterte told a group of Filipinos that the slur was not directed at the U.S. president and that he had told him so.
“I was ready (for Obama). I was waiting for Obama to respond. Lawyer to lawyer, we are both lawyers anyway… I said I never made the statement. Check it out.
“…I said that, but not in relation to Obama,” he said. “I’m not fighting with America.”
Obama and Duterte shook hands and had a brief chat on Wednesday, officials said, easing the standoff. Duterte had his outburst on Monday when he was defending his war on drugs that has killed at least 2,400 Filipinos.
Duterte on Friday said he thought U.N. Secretary-General Ban a fool for bringing up the issue of human rights violations weeks before the summit in Laos.
“Even Ban Ki-moon weighed in,” Duterte said. “Also gave a statement before, several weeks ago, about the human rights violation. Sabi ko, isa ka pang tarantado (you are another fool).”
Duterte also said he would try to boost security for ships using the waters between Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, where there have been several kidnappings and other attacks.
The Philippines would let Indonesian forces pursuing pirates enter its waters, he said.
“”This time we make it clear that if the chase began in Indonesia, then crosses in international waters, and inside Philippine waters, they can go ahead and blast them off.”
(Reporting by Fergus Jensen in JAKARTA and Karen Lema; in MANILA; Additional reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Writing by Eveline Danubrata; Editing by Nick Macfie)