MANILA – The Palace did not confirm whether Manila apologized to Washington after President Rodrigo Duterte made a homophobic slur against US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.
Pressed for answer whether the Philippine government apologized for the gaffe, Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the Philippines' Charge d'Affaires in Washington DC gave ''explanations'' about Duterte's remarks which were widely picked up by Western media.
''The explanations have been properly made. First and foremost, it was not meant to be a public statement. It was meant for a specific audience. The explanations have been properly made,'' Abella said in a press briefing.
Goldberg, who is set to leave his posting in October, criticized Duterte during the campaign for joking about the rape of an Australian missionary in Davao City in 1989, and the candidate responded by threatening to cut ties with the US, the Philippines' most important ally.
Duterte said over the weekend that he was irritated with US Ambassador Philip Goldberg and called him “bakla (gay)” for criticizing him during the election campaign.
State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau later said a Filipino diplomat was summoned "to clarify those remarks."
"The first, specifically on the remarks, we’ve seen those inappropriate comments made about Ambassador Goldberg. He’s a multi-time ambassador, one of our most senior US diplomats," Trudeau said.
Duterte said yesterday he is standing by his tirades against Goldberg, saying it was improper for the US envoy to making political comments at the height of elections.
''It's the truth anyway,'' he said.
Nonetheless, Duterte said his comments against Goldberg should not stand in the way of good relations between the two Pacific allies.
He said militarily, the United States remains important to the Philippines. He said the Philippine government is looking to buy military equipment from quality manufacturers and the US is one of the few sources.