Philippines leader calls US envoy ‘gay’ for ‘meddling’ in election
The Philippines’ firebrand President Rodrigo Duterte has sparked a fresh diplomatic row with his colourful language, calling the United States ambassador “gay” in comments that prompted Washington to summon Manila’s envoy to complain.
In the latest of series of tirades, Duterte used a Tagalog homophobic slur to express his displeasure with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg in televised comments made last Friday.
“As you know, I’m fighting with [US Secretary of State John Kerry’s] ambassador.
“His gay ambassador, the son of a w***e. He p****d me off,” Duterte said.
Duterte surged to power in a landslide in May following an incendiary campaign in which he gleefully used foul language to disrespect authority figures, from his local political rivals to the pope. He first came into conflict with US envoy Goldberg on the campaign trail in April, after he said he wanted to rape a “beautiful” Australian missionary who was sexually assaulted and murdered in a 1989 prison riot in Davao, the city he ran for two decades.
Goldberg and the Australian Ambassador both strongly criticised the comments.
In response, Duterte told reporters the ambassadors should “shut their mouths” and warned he was prepared to cut diplomatic ties with both the US and Australia. “If I become president, go ahead and sever [diplomatic ties],” he said.
In another firebomb, Duterte lashed out at Pope Francis for causing traffic jams in Manila when he visited the mainly Catholic nation last year.
“It took us five hours to get from the hotel to the airport. I asked who was coming. They said it was the pope. I wanted to call him: ‘Pope, son of a whore, go home. Don’t visit anymore’,” Duterte said.
Catholic leaders in the Philippines condemned Duterte’s comments but, like many other of his controversial remarks on the campaign, they had little impact on his popularity.
He later announced plans to visit the Vatican to personally apologise for insulting the pope but days later changed his mind saying he had already sent out a letter of apology which had already been acknowledged.
Duterte has also repeatedly expressed anger at what he regards as US intervention in domestic politics.
“He meddled during the elections, giving statements here and there. He was not supposed to do that,” Duterte said last Friday.
The US State Department said Filipino charge d’affaires Patrick Chuasoto was summoned on Monday to discuss Duterte’s inflammatory comments.
“We had that conversation,” department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said. “I think what we were seeking is perhaps a better understanding of why that statement was made.”
Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose confirmed the meeting but said Manila’s envoy had been “invited to the State Department to discuss the entire breadth of Philippines-US relations”.
“Philippine-US relations remain strong,” he said yesterday.