Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte acknowledged he skipped an evening event at the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima to avoid having to shake hands with Barack Obama. In a speech published Tuesday in a Manila newspaper, Duterte made it clear his absence had not been due to a an upset stomach, but rather a move to avoid an awkward situation.
Duterte, who is well known for his undiplomatic behaviour, explained that I attended the meetings, actually. Do not believe those idiots out there. But you know, Obama was there, and because we had an exchange of words, I was just trying to avoid an awkward situation, he added. Duterte said he feared that Obama would not accept his “gesture of handshake or his [Obama’s] getting out of the way to avoid him.” On different occasions, the Philippines leader has told the US president to “go to hell” and called him a “son of b*tch.”
“Because I did not want to create a scene, an awkward situation, I just stayed on the sidelines. That's the truth, I was avoiding an awkward situation, especially an international awkward behavior, the Philippines president said. I did not have a bum stomach; do not believe it. That was just an excuse. But really – I would not know how to react if he (Obama) would just push my hand, he said.
Duterte’s rhetoric has been quite the opposite in relation to US President-elect Donald Trump, though, whose victory Duterte welcomed. The Philippines leader pointed out he has much in common with Trump: We both like to swear,” he explained. ”We curse right away, we're the same,” he added.