Philippines leader Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday touted his relationship with President Trump and apologized for a comment from 2016 in which he attacked former President Obama.
Multiple news outlets reported that Duterte delivered remarks to Filipino workers in Jerusalem, where he called Trump a “good friend” who “speaks my language.” He credited that relationship with positive relations between the U.S. and the Philippines.
“It would be appropriate also to say at this time to Mr. Obama that you are now a civilian and I am sorry for uttering those words,” Duterte added. “If it is [in] your heart to forgive, you forgive. I have forgiven you.”
The controversial Filipino leader was referencing 2016 comments in which he called Obama a “son of a whore” before the two leaders were scheduled to meet. Obama, who had been critical of Duterte, ultimately canceled the meeting.
Duterte used the same attack against the U.S. ambassador to Manila days after meeting with then-Secretary of State John Kerry.
Duterte has been widely condemned by the international community for alleged human rights abuses related to a national crackdown on drugs. Paramilitary forces have allegedly carried out thousands of killings of suspected drug dealers and users since Duterte took office in 2016, according to Human Rights Watch.
Trump, who met with Duterte last November and praised the “great relationship” between the two men, faced criticism for failing to adequately press the Filipino leader on his human rights record.