Like myself many were really looking forward in anticipation the scheduled meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Barack Obama during the ASEAN summit in Laos, this after Duterte allegedly called Obama a son-of-a-bitch.
But did Duterte really cursed Obama, which resulted with the latter cancelling their bilateral meeting, or was it just his manner of speaking when emphatically expressing a point when his iron-handed leadership is being questioned or perhaps blamed for something deemed atrocious?
“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,” a statement released by Mr Duterte said.
Regrettably what sounded like an ordinary expression when one is pissed off was spun by the media as something roguishly directed to a person, which in this case happened to be Obama, when a reporter asked Duterte how he intended to explain the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers to Obama.
Worse even was when the swearing remark, ‘son-of-a-bitch’, which is commonly used by Americans, got spun and made to appear as ‘son-of-a-whore’. The latter undeniably sounds more obscene than the commonly used expletive by Americans.
What is ‘putang ina’ to Filipinos is what is ‘son-of-a-bitch- to Americans, used normally as emphatic exclamation.
This is how Duterte defended himself when blamed that it was his foul-mouthed tirade seemingly against Obama that derailed their historic meeting.
Was the aborted meeting lost opportunity? Maybe, for the Philippines needs the US for military assistance if and when, in the same manner that the US needs the strategic location of the country.
But does Duterte have any misgivings about the cancelled meeting? Not really because the need for one another will always open up an opportunity for both leaders to eventually sit down and talk sooner or later.
Meanwhile Duterte can have talks with other heads of state that are willing to help and assist and do business with the country. Besides, Duterte’s leadership seems to have captivated the imagination of the leaders of the ASEAN who sees the country as a bullish market for investment.
As to the equally anticipated clash between Duterte and UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon, well it was just as well that it did not happen despite the hype. Yes, they met and shook hands during the summit but nothing much was said about it. It went pffft! Perhaps Duterte tried very hard to contain his temper at the man he called “tarantado” (a fool).