MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says God had threatened to bring down his plane if he did not change his ways.

The epiphany came to the Philippines leader on a trip back from Japan, where he had held a historic meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The official three-day visit is the latest in his strategy of inching closer to his regional neighbors, China and Japan.

“I was looking at the skies while I was coming over here … everybody was asleep, snoring, but a voice said that, ‘you know, if you don’t stop epithets, I will bring this plane down now’,” Duterte said at a news conference late on Thursday upon arrival in his home city of Davao.

“And I said, ‘who is this?’ So, of course, it’s God. OK.

“So, I promise God … not to express slang, cuss words and everything.”

The leader had called both Pope Francis and US President Barack Obama “son of a whore” or “son of a bitch” on separate occasions.