Before Friday, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte had established a reputation as the most potty-mouthed head of state in the world. Insulting diplomats, presidents, and priests in equal measure, Duterte had shown a complete lack of diplomatic tact during his short tenure, beginning in June.
However, after landing home from his trip to Tokyo this week, Duterte made an about-face.
Duterte told reporters Friday that he heard a voice say, “If you don’t stop epithets, I will bring this plane down now.” He explained, “And I said, ‘Who is this?’ So, of course, ‘it’s God.’”
“So, I promise God to … not 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,” he said.
Thankfully for those who enjoy profanity, Duterte has cursed publicly enough in the last six months to cover an entire political career. Below, some of his “greatest hits” as president, most targeting his favorite rivals and some of the Philippines’ closest allies: the United States and the Catholic Church.
Warning: adult language below.
“Whether there will be a thousand investigations or Ban Ki-moon comes here, I don’t give a shit.”
A large percentage of Duterte’s public outbursts have been in response to the international community’s concern that his war on drugs and promotion of extrajudicial killings – including promising leftover campaign cash as a bounty to those who kill drug suspects – has violated human rights. Duterte has been especially outraged by United Nations declarations that he may be acting above the law.
“I don’t care whether there is a thousand hearings everywhere. … I will not stop until the last pushers on the streets are fully exterminated,” he said in a speech in September. “Whether there will be a thousand investigations or (UN chief) Ban Ki-moon comes here, I don’t give a shit.”
“I had an argument with their ambassador, that bakla. Son of a bitch, he really annoys me.”
Duterte has repeatedly made clear that his least favorite diplomat on the planet is Philip Goldberg, the U.S. ambassador to Manila. This was in August, discussing a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, whom he described as “okay.”
“But I had an argument with their ambassador, that bakla,” Duterte said, using a Filipino epithet roughly meaning “homosexual.” “Son of a bitch, he really annoys me.” There is no public record of Goldberg identifying as gay, adding to the certainty Duterte meant the term as a pure insult.
“These priests are sons of bitches.”
Second only to American political figures, Duterte has made a name for himself insulting Catholic leaders in a nation that is over 80 percent Catholic. The Catholic Church, like the UN, has repeatedly warned Duterte to keep human rights in mind when executing his war on drugs. Earlier this month, Duterte went on a profanity-laced Tagalog tirade against a priest in particular, former Davao bishop, Fernando Capalla, whom he accused of breaking his ordination vows.
“Capalla was our bishop then. We’re the same, we both have mistresses. He was bishop, I was mayor then,” Duterte claimed. “These priests are sons of bitches. They pretend to be morally right.”
“Son of a whore, I will curse at you.”
Perhaps no tirade of Duterte insults went as global as his rant against U.S. President Barack Obama. In the days preceding a scheduled first meeting in person with Obama, Duterte vowed he would curse at Obama to his face if the U.S. President brought up the potential human rights violations during his tenure. Obama, he argued, “must be respectful. You don’t just throw away questions and statements. ‘Putang ina’ mo murahin kita diyan sa forum na ‘yan. [Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum.]”
“And then the EU has the gall to condemn me. Fuck you.”
Duterte reserved his harshest words, though not his most frequent ones, for the European Union last month. The EU published a condemnation of Duterte’s drug war, encouraging his government to consider following international human rights norms.
“I read the condemnation of the EU against me. I will tell them, ‘fuck you.’ You’re doing it in atonement for your sins,” he said in response, accusing EU nations of killing thousands of civilians in proxy wars. “And then EU now has the gall to condemn me. I repeat it, ‘fuck you.'”
Bonus: “When I take Viagra, it stands up.”
While not technically profane, Duterte’s April speech as presidential candidate before business leaders at the elite Makati Business Club was, at best, extremely confusing. “I was looking forward to his presentation on economic policies … but there was no time,” a baffled Makati club leader said after the speech. That time was instead filled by Duterte describing what happens when he takes Viagra (“it stands up”) and threatening the crowd with his usual interjections of “I will kill you.”