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From Obama slur to rape jokes, Philippines Prez Rodrigo Duterte is controversy's favourite child

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 7 September 2016, 0:25 IST

On 6 September, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte expressed regret for his expletive-laced tirade against US President Barack Obama.

"I do not have any master except the Filipino people, nobody but nobody. You must be respectful. Do not just throw questions. 'Putang ina' I will swear at you in that forum." which is the Tagalog phrase for "son of a bitch" or "son of a whore," Duterte said.

Reacting to the comment, Obama said: "Clearly, he's a colorful guy," and called Duterte a close "friend and ally" of the United States.

This is not the first time that Mayor-turned-President - who is currently under international scrutiny for a self-proclaimed 'war on drugs' in the Philippines - has found himself embroiled in controversy.

Here are a few such instances:

1) Cancelled a meeting with Ban Ki-moon (September 2016)

On 3 September, Duterte declined a meeting at Laos with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

In June this year, Ban had called the extrajudicial killings in Philippines a "illegal and a breach of fundamental rights and freedoms." Duterte had then called the UN "stupid" and "inutile".

"Maybe we'll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations. If you're that rude, son of a bitch, we'll just leave you. So take us out of your organisation, you have done nothing here anyway," he was quoted as saying.

He later withdrew the statement.

2) 'I don't care about human rights' (August 2016)

In August this year, Duterte reaffirmed his commitment to what he calls the cleansing of Philippines of the massive drug nexus. Over 2,400 people have been reportedly killed in his "war on drugs".

While the killings have drawn harsh condemnation from Filipino and international bodies alike, Duterte said that he would hold firm to his "shoot-to-kill" order against drug dealers "until the last day of my term, if I'm still alive by then". "I don't care about human rights, believe me," he said, according to official transcripts released by the presidential palace, as reported by Al Jazeera.

3) Threatened to jet ski to South China Sea (July 2016)

He ruffled feathers when he said he would solve the South China Sea row by jet-skiing and planting the Philippines flag on an island in the disputed sea.

"I will ask the Navy to bring me to the nearest point in South China Sea that is tolerable to them and I will ride a jet ski‎. I will carry a flag and when I reach Spratlys, I will erect the Filipino flag," ABS-CBN News quoted him as saying.

4) Made #RapeIsNotAJoke trend (April 2016)

He sparked a massive controversy with his insensitive comments on Jacqueline Hamill, the 36-year-old Australian missionary who was gangraped and murdered after inmates seized a jail in Davao in 1989.

"I was angry because she was raped, that's one thing ... but she was so beautiful, the mayor should have been first. What a waste," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying.

5) Abused Pope Francis (January 2015)

"Son of a bitch," appears to be Duterte's go-to choice of slur. He has been caught using the term on a number of public occasions.

When Pope Francis visited Manila in January 2015, over six million people attended the mass at the Philippine capital's Rizal Park. Commenting on the traffic in the capital at the time, Duterte had said:

"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".

Later, he retracted his statement, saying that he was frustrated with the traffic and did not mean to verbally abuse the pope.

A 'colourful' personality

Duterte, who was mayor of Davao for 22 years, was elected as President of the Philippines in June this year. When campaigning for president, Duterte had said that he would kill 100,000 criminals should he bag the top post.

A 2002 TIME profile of Duterte notes that "made a policy of doling out groceries to cops as a way of curbing their temptation to elicit bribes." He has often been compared to Republican US Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

"Obviously the comparisons to Trump are tempting, and getting a little bit tired, but they're very appropriate in that he tapped into popular anger and frustration among a cross-section of Philippine society," Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phelim Kine told The WorldPost.

"When I say leave Davao, you leave Davao. If you do not do that, you are dead... If you do not know how to kill people and you're afraid to die, that's the problem, you cannot be president," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted him as saying during his campaign.

He has previously made headlines for his misogynistic comments. In June 2016, he wolf whistled at a female journalist on live television. He has also publicly bragged about using Viagra with many "mistresses".

He has also been accused of curroption.

First published: 7 September 2016, 0:25 IST