Duterte, Obama agree to postpone bilateral meet

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/06 Sept.) – Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte and US President Barrack Obama have agreed to postpone their bilateral meeting, apparently due to Duterte’s strong remarks against the American leader on Monday.

In statement read by Malacanang spokesperson Ernesto Abella aired live on Facebook in the 28th and 29th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summits in Vientiane in Laos, Duterte acknowledged that the postponement of the meeting was caused by his critical comments against Obama who was expected to raise the issue of extrajudicial killings in the ASEAN meets.

“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 on the US President,” he said.

He said he wants to chart “an independent foreign policy while promoting closer ties with all nations, especially the US with which the Philippines has a long standing partnership.”

He said he looks forward to fixing the differences “arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries.”

Presidential Communications and Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the country’s alliance with the US would continue, as both countries share common goals in battling out drugs, terrorists, crime and poverty.

He said Duterte was thankful to President Obama for his support to the Philippines as he underscored the importance for China to respect international law during the G20 (or Group of Twenty) forum.

He said the President has acknowledged the US’s unwavering commitment to the security of its treaty allies.

Before leaving for Laos at the F. Bangoy International Airport on Monday, a reporter asked Duterte how he would he respond if Obama would raise the issue of extrajudicial killings in the summit.

Duterte replied he is not beholden to anybody and he is answerable to the Filipino people.

“The Philippines is not a vassal state of the US. We have long ceased to be the colony of the US. I do not respond to anybody but to the people of Republic of the Philippines,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)