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Philippines' Foul-Mouthed President Vows To Stop Swearing

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to journalists at a Japan Coast Guard base on Thursday.
Eugene Hoshiko
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to journalists at a Japan Coast Guard base on Thursday.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who once called President Obama a "son of a whore," said Friday that God threatened to crash his plane if he did not stop swearing.

Speaking to reporters in the Philippines, the notoriously foul-mouthed president recounted his exchange with God, which he said occurred while aboard a plane back to his country late Thursday. According to the Washington Post, Duterte said God commanded: "If you don't stop epithets, I will bring this plane down now." He continues:

" 'And I said, "Who is this?" So, of course, "it's God," ' he told Filipino journalists late Thursday.

" 'So, I promise God,' he continued, 'Not [to] express slang, cuss words and everything. So you guys hear me right always because [a] promise to God is a promise to the Filipino people.' "

But the president seemed less than confident in his ability to keep the promise, immediately warning that he "might fail," as CNN reported.

In addition to calling Obama "son of a whore" (or "son of a bitch," depending on the translation from Tagalog), Duterte has targeted other world leaders with his go-to insult. NPR's Elise Hu reported last month:

"He's used it against Pope Francis, after a visit by the pontiff caused traffic tie-ups in the Philippines. He's also given the title to the U.S. ambassador in Manila, whom Duterte also called 'gay.' And U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is also part of the 'son of a bitch' club."

Duterte leveled his ire at Ban after the U.N. secretary general criticized the president's violent crackdown on criminals in the country, which has resulted in nearly 1,800 extrajudicial killings, as the Two-Way reported in August.

The president, who was elected in May, has also been criticized for his comments about a 1989 rape and murder while he was campaigning for the country's highest office. He referenced the victim's beauty and said that as the mayor he "should have been first," to rape her. As the Two-Way reported, Duterte did not apologize for his comment, saying it was "gutter language."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.