Philippines President Regrets Statement

Philippines President Roderigo Duterte made a comment to a reporter Monday that sounded like he used an expletive to refer to President Obama. The next day he issued a statement saying, “We regret it came across as a personal attack on the U.S. President. We look forward to ironing out differences arising out of national priorities and perceptions, and working in mutually responsible ways for both countries.”

As the media noted, this was not an apology, but it is still apparently unusual for President Duterte to indicate any contrition for his regular profanities against world leaders. This statement of regret was not enough for President Obama to re-schedule the meeting with President Duterte, that President Obama canceled in response to President Duterte’s name-calling.

But it illustrates how different levels of regret play a role in the complicated process of repairing relationships damaged by an offense. Experts in the dispute resolution field, such as Christopher Moore and Darrell Puls, have noted that sometimes the offender isn’t prepared to offer a full-blown apology, but will offer an acknowledgement of responsibility, or a statement of regret, and sometimes that’s all the victim needs to hear. Christopher Moore refers to these as “levels of psychological closure.”

Whether that’s sufficient in this case remains to be seen.



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