After calling US President Barack Obama a "son of a bitch" on Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has decided he does not "want to quarrel with the most powerful country on the planet" and attempted to atone for the insult.
On Tuesday, after the White House said Obama had canceled a scheduled meeting with Duterte at a regional summit in Laos this week, a spokesperson for the Philippine leader expressed "regret" that the "strong comments... came across as a personal attack on the US president."
The spat began on Monday when a reporter asked Duterte how he planned to explain to Obama his support for more than 2,000 extrajudicial killings of drug suspects that have occurred since he was elected in May.
"I am a president of a sovereign state and we have long ceased to be a colony," Duterte replied. "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."
The phrase "Putang ina" is Tagalog for "son of a bitch," but it has also been translated by some Western media outlets as "son of a whore."
Regardless of exactly how Duterte insulted the leader of the free world and his mother, by Tuesday he realized it was perhaps unwise to pick a fight with a country that has provided the Philippines with nearly $500 million in military aid since 2002. The US has also given its former colony $166 million in general aid since 2010, including $91 million to help with the recovery from Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
"We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries," the statement said.
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