MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has described how he was advised by the government's foreign office to stop using expletives in his speeches, but then recalled how he cursed Barack Obama because of the former U.S. leader's criticism of his anti-drug campaign.
Known for anti-American tirades, Duterte said in a speech marking Thursday's anniversary of a battle during the Philippine-American war that he now wants to be friendly toward the United States. He called Americans "allies" who have provided crucial equipment to Filipino soldiers battling Islamic State-linked militants in the south.
"I was under advice by the Department of Foreign Affairs that I would just temper my language and I should avoid cursing, which I am prone to do if I get emotional," Duterte said.
Then he recalled cursing Obama, saying he called him "you black son of a bitch" for criticizing his anti-drug campaign in the Philippines.
Rep. Edcel Lagman said the racial slur was unacceptable, especially because the president was talking about a former head of state.
"The country is put in a bad light because our president seems to be uncouth, using such foul language," Lagman said. "He is now using a racial statement, which is completely unacceptable to decent society."
"What can we expect from a president who bullies his way to promote his regime instead of asserting sovereignty in a firm and principled way?" asked Cristina Palabay of the human rights group Karapatan.
Thousands of suspects have been killed in Duterte's anti-drug crackdown since he took power last year.