Hillary Clinton on Tuesday strongly condemned Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s now-infamous “son of a b–” comment directed at President Obama, saying that the White House made the right call in canceling their meeting.
“When the president of the Philippines insulted our president, it was appropriate in a very low-key way to say: sorry, no meeting,” the Democratic presidential nominee told reporters after the incident, according to Reuters.
“We have a lot of ties between the United States and the Philippines. And I think it’s very important that we have a relationship,” Clinton added. “But there has to be a certain level of respect that is expected on both sides.”
The former secretary of state’s comments came after President Duterte expressed “regret” for hurling the profanity at Obama, just before the two leaders were scheduled to sit down in Laos.
Duterte has emphasized that he was responding to a reporter’s question over how he would explain to the U.S. the extrajudicial killings of more than 2,000 suspected drug dealers and users in his home country. In that exchange, he warned Obama to “not just throw questions” at him during their meeting, and reminded the American president “we have long ceased to be a colony.”
Duterte also let fly the phrase “putang ina” in his remarks Monday, translated from Tagalog into “son of a b–.”
“Clearly, he’s a colorful guy,” Obama said afterward.
The next day, the Filipino president walked back his comments in a new statement, saying they were not intended “as a personal attack on the U.S. president.”
The White House now says that Obama may still meet with Duterte, but only informally.
“Words matter,” said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.