Agence France-Presse reported that Duterte described Philip Goldberg as “gay” and “the son of a whore” on Aug. 5 while criticizing him for allegedly interfering in the country’s elections. The comments, which were in Tagalog, were broadcast on Philippine television.
Duterte made the comments nine days after he met with Secretary of State John Kerry in Manila.
State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau on Monday described Duterte’s comments as “inappropriate.”
“He’s a multi-time ambassador, one of our most senior U.S. diplomats,” said Trudeau during her daily press briefing, referring to Goldberg.
Trudeau said the State Department summoned Philippine Charge d’Affaires to the U.S. Patrick Chuasoto “to clarify” Duterte’s remarks. She told reporters on Tuesday that the State Department was seeking “a better understanding of why that statement was made.”
Philippine voters in May elected Duterte to succeed then-President Benigno Aquino.
The controversial former mayor of the city of Davao who is known as the Philippine Donald Trump has faced questions about his alleged ties to “death squads.” Trudeau on Monday said the State Department is “concerned” by reports that more than 400 people have been killed in a drug crackdown that Duterte launched after he took office on June 30.
“We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts comply with its human rights obligations,” said Trudeau.
Duterte made his comments roughly a month after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, a Dominican cardinal who repeatedly used homophobic slurs to describe gay U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic James “Wally” Brewster.