MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday expressed his regrets over the controversy that arose from the ‘strong comments’ he made to certain media questions that came across as a personal attack on United States President Barack Obama.
In a statement read by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in the sidelines of the ASEAN leaders’ meeting in Vientiane, Laos, the President likewise said that he is “looking forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries.”
The statement in full read:
“The meeting between the United States and the Philippines has been mutually agreed upon to be moved to a later date.
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 to the US President.
Our primary intention is to chart an independent foreign policy while promoting closet ties with all nations, especially the US with which we have had a long standing partnership.
We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries.”
Meanwhile, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said that it was press reports that President Obama would “lecture” Duterte on extrajudicial killings prompted the strong comments.
This led to the cancellation of the bilateral meeting between Obama and Duterte this week.
Andanar said that both delegation have agreed to meet at a later date because of issues that still need to be worked on.
Despite the events, the Palace official said that President Duterte continues to value the alliance between the Philippines and the US as both countries share common goals in their pursuit of the war against drugs, terrorists, crime and poverty.
“He also thanked President Obama for the US’ firm support for the Philippines during the G20, where President Obama emphasized the importance for China to abide by its obligations under international law and underscored the United States’ unwavering commitment to the security of its treaty allies,” Andanar said.
The Palace official said that while Duterte asserted his intent to chart an independent foreign policy, the President also expressed his “deep regard and affinity for President Obama and for the enduring partnership between our nations.”
“Duterte likewise stressed that in securing and preserving the rights and liberties of our people, it is imperative that the fight against illegal drugs, terrorists, crimes and poverty must be won in order to preserve the principle and values upon which our democratic way of life is anchored,” Andanar said.